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In the Heart 

of the Arctics 


NICHOLAS SENN, M. D., Ph. D., LL. D., C M. 

Professor of Surgery, The University of Chicago; 

Professor of Military Surgery, Rush Medical 

College; Surgeon-General of Illinois; Chief of 

Operating Staff with the Army in the Field 

during the Spanish-American War 








In the Heart of the Arctics 13 

The Polar Region as a Summer Health Resort for Pa- 
tients Afflicted with Pulmonary Tuberculosis 19 

An Unexpected Opportunity 23 

The "Erik" 27 

Newfoundland Seal Fishery 31 

Off for Greenland 39 

A Glimpse of Labrador Life 47 

Through Belle Isle Strait 55 

From Labrador to Greenland 63 

Greenland 75 

Along the West Coast of Greenland 89 

In North Star Bay 109 

The Midnight Sun 7 123 

A Great Inland Ice Cap 129 

Life at North Star Bay 133 

Short Life of Greenland's Flora 137 

Maternal Love of Arctic Animals 139 

An Unexpected, Unlooked-for Visitor 143 

Arrival of the "Roosevelt" 147 

Commander Peary 149 

From North Star Bay to Etah 151 

How Peary Collected His Eskimos 155 

The Walrus 165 

Etah . . .177 



The Smith Sound Eskimos > 179 

Ten Days at Etah 231 

An Eskimo Wedding on Board the "Erik" 255 

The "Roosevelt" 259 

Departure of the "Roosevelt" - 265 

A Friendly Contest between the Midnight Sun and the 

Moon 269 

Deception of Distances in the Arctic Region 271 

The Flora in the Heart of the Arctics 275 

Arctic Woes 279 

Approach of Winter 285 

Homeward Bound 287 

Mental Indigestion 293 

Isolation of the Smith Sound Eskimos 299 

Omenak Fiord 303 

Disco Island 305 

Harbor of Godhavn 307 

Greenland Ports 317 

From Godhavn to St. Johns, Newfoundland 321 

From St. Johns to Sydney, Cape Breton 335 



Peary on the Bridge of the "Erik" Frontispiece 

Commander Peary on Deck of the "Roosevelt" 259 

A Monster Veteran Iceberg 95 

Steward of the "Erik" Calling for Dinner 31 

The "Erik" at Etah 27 

Mates Blanford and Whitten, Engineers Maher and 

Knight of the "Erik" 29 

Hunting Seal on Land Ice 33 

A Breathing Hole in the Ice for the Seal 35 

Sealing Crew on Ice Field 37 

Musk-Ox of North Greenland 39 

My-a, the Adonis of the Tribe 193 

Tung-we, the Tallest Man of the Tribe 195 

Moonlight Glimpse of Labrador Coast 47 

Hopedale Labrador Whaling Station 49 

A Veteran Whaling Crew 53 

Bird Cliff, Saunders Island 167 

Half of the Bag 175 

Ballaena, Labrador 63 

The Noble Game of Greenland 75 

Heilprin Glacier in Inglefield Gulf 153 

Hauling a Dead Polar on Deck 93 

One of the Tents of Little Omenak 101 

The Face of Petowik Glacier Nunataks in the Rear. . . 105 

Old Igloos, North Star Bay 109 

Greenland Inland Fresh Water Lakes . . Ill 



Tupik (Tent) and Eskimo Children 115 

Two Interiors of Tupik Floor and Bed 117 

Eskimo with Woman in Kayak 125 

"Jumbo," Wife and Children 127 

"Jumbo's" Left Foot 129 

Tunneled Iceberg 135 

A Flower Patch in the Heart of the Arctics 277 

The Yellow Poppy 139 

Eskimo Dogs at North Star Bay 133 

The "Roosevelt" in Foulke Fiord 147 

Commander Peary in Arctic Suit 149 

Table Mountain at North Star Bay (Noah's Ark) 103 

Three Native Girls 163 

Eskimo Women on Board the "Erik" 199 

Eskimo Woman with Child in Hood 165 

Kud and His Chum 161 

Two Whales in Process of Cutting Up 57 

Taking Walrus on Board 171 

Eskimo Women at Work on Deck of the "Erik" 173 

Etah 177 

Buriate and Wife 181 

Female Form 185 

Eskimo Women 197 

Eskimo Dog Team 201 

Melville Bay Seal Hunting on Land Ice 207 

Iceberg at the Head of Inglefield Gulf 157 

Interior of Baffin Land 99 

A Civilized Baffin Land Eskimo 227 

View in Foulke Fiord 233 

Natives, Tents and Dogs 119 

An Eskimo Belle . . 189 



Landing Dogs at Etah 243 

Auk Rookeries in Foulke Fiord 247 

Cleaning Up an Ice Pan 43 

A Wedding on Board the "Erik" 255 

Captain Bartlett of the "Roosevelt" 261 

The "Roosevelt" Leaving Etah for the Farthest North . 265 

One of the Finest Icebergs Encountered by the Party . . 267 

A Twin Iceberg 271 

Southern Shore, Inglefield Gulf 155 

First Cliff beyond North Star Bay 303 

Southern Shore Omenak Fiord 297 

Civilized Eskimos of Godhavn 311 

A Monster Iceberg in Disco Bay 305 

Godhavn 309 

Igloo at Little Omenak and Native Women 107 

Church at Godhavn 315 

Blue Fox at Dusk 151 

Eskimo Dogs 113 

A View of Baffin Land . 97 


"Speed the soft intercourse from soul to soul, 
And waft a sigh from Indus to the Pole.'' 

We who were born and raised in the temperate 
zone, and have spent much of our lifetime in lands 
of varied seasons, have naturally a strong desire to 
know and see how the people live in the two climatic 
extremes in the neighborhood of the equator and 
the poles. From our earliest childhood days, we 
have the most vivid and pleasant recollections of 
the four seasons of the year spring, summer, 
autumn and winter; all of which bring their special 
delights and attractions with a never-failing regu- 

"Here stood fresh Spring, bound with flowery 
chaplet; Summer was unclothed, and bore a 
wheaten garland; Autumn also was there be- 
smeared with trodden grapes; and icy Winter, 
rough with hoary locks." Ovidius. 

Spring reminds us of the time when Nature 
wakes up from her long winter slumber, rejuvenates 



herself in the unfolding buds, expanding leaves and 
flowers, and sprouting grass under the caressing 
charms of the approaching sun, and the warm breath 
of generous warm showers. 

"And now every field is clothed'with grass, 
every tree with leaves; now the woods put 
forth their blossoms; now the year assumes 
its gayest attire." Virgilius. 

It is the time 

"When Spring unlocks the flowers to paint 
the laughing soil." Heber. 

Spring, the symbol of childhood, of beauty, 
peace, and happiness, is the season which is looked 
forward to with impatience; and there is no one, 
young or old, who, after the long winter, would not 
join with heart and soul in the pressing invitation: 

"Come, gentle Spring! ethereal mildness! 
Come. " Thomson. 

Summer brings the golden harvest and fills the 
air with the exquisite fragrance of the new-mown 

"Autumn nodding o'er the yellow plain." 


yields its corn and luscious fruits, and Winter puts 
Nature to sleep under a bed of immaculate snow and 
invites young and old to invigorating outdoor sport 
on ice and snow. 

The climatic changes in the temperate zones 
come and go almost imperceptibly, and accomplish 
their task silently and insidiously. But what a 


fascination there is about the going beyond the 
limits of these temperate, conservative efforts of 
nature! What an inspiration to go where soil and 
climate combine to force from the earth nature's 
grandest and most imposing productions; or to go 
to the opposite extremes, where her icy hands, 
stretched from the poles, forbid the approach of 
man and beast, and lock the door against the intru- 
sion of any kind of vegetation! 

For eight consecutive years I have spent much 
of my vacation time, during mid-summer and mid- 
winter, in tropic and sub-tropic islands and coun- 
tries. I have become much enamored of the lofty, 
feathery palms, the rampant vegetation of the 
tropics, and the child-like, dusky people inhabiting 
them. I love the primeval tropic forests and their 
closely woven, almost impenetrable jungles, teeming 
with animal life, and have learned to appreciate 
keenly the delicate fruits of nature's choicest 
orchards and the balmy air perfumed by the 
fragrance of myriads of flowers which decorate 
meadows and foliage. 

The visitor from the North revels in the wonder- 
ful handiworks of nature, but soon becomes aware 
by the heat that distresses him and by the insects 
that torture him by night and by day, that he is in 
the tropics. It is then that he thinks of a cooler 
climate and the lines heading this chapter occur 
to him : 

"Speed the soft intercourse from soul to soul, 
And waft a sigh from Indus to the Pole." 


I was made to experience the force and meaning 
of these lines during the summer of 1904, on my 
second voyage around the world, when I traveled 
across India in August and September, two of the 
hottest months of the year. At Benares, Delhi, 
Jaipur, and intervening points, the mercury of my 
thermometer, which registered 132 F. when ex- 
posed to the burning rays of the sun, nervously shot 
up to its maximum limit and had space permitted, 
I have no doubt it would have climbed up to 140 
F. It was then I wafted a longing "sigh from 
Indus to the pole." 

The depressing effects of prolonged, continuous 
heat engenders an ardent desire for a land where 
the sun casts his rays more obliquely and with less 
power on the surface of the earth. Having become 
somewhat familiar with the tropics, their people, 
their trees and flowers, their animal life, and the effects 
of heat on man, beast, and vegetation, an irresist- 
ible desire gained possession of me to seek the dis- 
tant North, where Nature's moods and methods 
are more stern and where the struggle of life is more 
exacting and severe. I have had glimpses of the 
North from different points: at North Cape, 
Norway, where I was fortunate enough to see the 
midnight sun in all his glory; in Alaska, the land of 
forests, fiords and inland seas, the home of the won- 
derful Muir and Taku glaciers, and the wild un- 
tutored Alaska Indians; in Newfoundland, that 
stern and semi-arctic island, until quite recently 
the winter home of many of the arctic animals; in 
Siberia, the land of flowering steppes, mountains, 


majestic rivers, strange lakes, and endless moss- 
grown tundras. But my imagination carried me away 
beyond these now much frequented places, away 
beyond the Arctic Circle. 

The writings of the most noted arctic explorers, 
Kane, Nordenskjold, Peary and Nansen, added oil 
to the fire, and the longing became irresistible. 
Greenland, the land of glaciers and icy mountains, 
was my objective point. But how to get there and 
return within the limits of my allotted vacation 
time, were matters not easily solved. Fate favored 
me. When the daily press brought the news that 
Dr. Frederick Sohon, of Washington, D. C., intended 
to take a party of consumptives on a cruise along 
the western coast of Greenland, to give them the 
benefits of the uncontaminated pure air of the arctic 
region, I decided to make use of this unusual oppor- 
tunity to gratify my burning desire to study the 
climatic conditions within the Arctic Circle, the 
natives, and the scanty vegetation. I reserved at 
once a cabin, but unfortunately the plan miscarried, 
owing to objections made by the Danish govern- 
ment, to the landing of the vessel at any point along 
the intended route. It is a great pity that Doctor 
Sohon could not carry out his well matured plans, 
to test the curative power of the arctic region in 
cases of incipient tuberculosis of the lungs and other 
parts of the body. 



Experience, the best and most reliable guide in 
the practice of the healing art, has demonstrated, 
most conclusively, that the best results in the treat- 
ment of pulmonary tuberculosis are obtained by 
giving the patients the benefits of outdoor air and 
a maximum amount of sunlight. These two cura- 
tive agencies are found in an ideal condition during 
the summer months, above the Arctic Circle, where 
the air is absolutely sterile as far as the bacillus 
of tuberculosis is concerned, and where the short 
summer is one long day, illuminated by the dazzling 
rays of the midnight sun, which, in themselves, 
exercise a curative influence. 

The personal experience of Doctor Sohon proves 
the curative power of the arctic climate on tubercu- 
losis. In speaking of the projected Greenland cruise, 
he says: "The plan, which has been a dream of 
mine for many years, and which, through the aid 
of a number of generous men, will now be put into 
operation, is the sequel to my own experience in the 
polar regions. I accompanied Commander Peary 
in 1897, and was at that time slightly affected by 
tuberculosis myself. I improved so rapidly, de- 
spite the hardships of the journey, and was so vastly 


benefited that I was struck with wonder at what 
the arctic regions could do for persons so affected. 
Five years afterward, on accompanying the Peary 
relief expedition, I made an exhaustive study of the 
subject of the curative properties of the far North 
for consumptives." 

Tubercle bacilli do not necessarily cause a hopeless 
disease, but it is the resulting mixed infection with 
pyogenic organisms which occasions danger. The 
indications in the treatment are to have an environ- 
ment free from harmful bacteria, and to secure such 
other favorable conditions as to encourage a resto- 
ration of vitality and vigor, by which the disease is 
arrested and health restored. These conditions are 
found to perfection in some of the Greenland fiords. 
The suggestion of their adaptability to this purpose 
has nothing strange or experimental for its founda- 
tion. It offers something easily obtainable and 
better than we have at present the highest de- 
velopment of all that has proved beneficial in the 
rational treatment of tuberculosis. "A summer 
spent in Omenak Fiord or Inglefield Gulf, where we 
propose anchoring and biding awhile, would serve 
to establish a cure, or insure its accomplishment 
afterward, in nearly all cases not hopelessly advanced. 
Three consumptives to my knowledge have gone to 
these places, and in each case the cure was immediate 
and effectual. Two of them were for three months 
in the Peary expedition, and the third, a well- 
advanced case, was for nine months aboard a whaler. 
Six Eskimos brought to this country soon contracted 
virulent tuberculosis, four of them quickly sue- 


cumbing, one being still under treatment here, while 
the only one who returned to his native snows, 
recovered." The climatic conditions in Green- 
land, above the Arctic Circle, are ideal for this pur- 
pose. "The secret of the open open-air treat- 
ment for this terrible disease is abundant sunlight 
and a dry, cold, bracing atmosphere. These three 
ingredients abound only in the very North during the 
three months of sunshine." 

"Almost to the extreme northern boundary of 
Greenland, and some degrees above the Arctic Circle, 
the summer temperature seldom falls below the 
freezing point, the mercury being generally above 
in July and August, when it ranges from 35 F. to 
45 F. There is no increase of heat during the day 
and no cooling off during the night, for nights there 
are none." 

Fascinated by these natural curative resources 
of nature in the polar region, Doctor Sohon decided 
to make use of them by taking a summer trip along 
the west coast of Greenland, expecting to spend 
much of the time in several of the large inland fiords. 
He had made arrangements to have the steamship 
"Havana" converted into a hospital-ship with all the 
comforts and equipments of a modern sanatorium, 
and intended to make the cruise during the three 
summer months of perpetual daylight. Sailing 
along the coast and stopping in the sheltered fiords 
for several days, would give the patients, besides, 
the benefits of a frequent change of scenery. The 
purity of the air, the cool breezes, the constant 
sunbath and the living on the roof of a floating 


hospital in a region where colds are almost unknown, 
certainly held out much encouragement that his 
humane undertaking would have proved a great 
success had the Danish government not put an 
unexpected stop to his plans. Doctor Sohon is so 
firmly convinced of the curative power of the arctic 
climate in the treatment of tuberculosis that he will 
not leave a stone unturned to make such a cruise 
next year, if not along the west coast of Greenland, 
in a region within the Arctic Circle offering similar 
hygienic advantages. 


I had set my mind on seeing Greenland this 
year, and was very much disappointed when I 
found that Doctor Sohon's plans had miscarried. I 
could possibly have succeeded in going to Danish 
Greenland by way of Copenhagen, whence a steamer 
sails for Greenland three times during the summer 
season; but I wanted to see that part of Greenland 
north of the Danish settlements, the heart of the 
arctics. The only chance left was the Peary 
expedition. It was through the influence of Dr. 
Sohon that Commander Peary finally gave his con- 
sent for Doctor Sohon and myself to become the 
only passengers on his supply ship, the "Erik," a 
courtesy which we keenly appreciated. 

I am very fortunate in having for my traveling 
companion, on this somewhat novel trip, a man 
like Dr. Sohon, who is quite familiar, by his former 
experience, with what I expect to see and study. 
The time will pass more pleasantly and profitably 

"A pleasant companion causes you not to 
perceive the length of the journey." Publius 

As we will be the only passengers on the "Erik," 
nothing will detract our attention from studying 
the "Land of the Midnight Sun," its strange people, 
its scanty vegetation, its wealth of marine animals, 



its gigantic ice-cap with its leaders seaward in the 
form of glaciers. We will see icebergs born, icebergs 
floating and icebergs stranded, in all stages of dis- 
integration, yielding slowly, but surely, to the grad- 
ually increasing heat of the sun and warmth of the 
water that carries them to destruction. We will be 
given an opportunity to visit the places made nota- 
ble by a number of intrepid explorers on their way 
over the pathless ocean and limitless fields of ice 
and snow in search of the pole. We will go where 

"We learn daylight." Shakespeare. 
We will spend most of our time where 

"Through the plains, of one continual day, 

Six shining months pursue their even way; 

And six succeeding, urge their dusky flight, 

Obscured with vapors and o'erwhelmed in 

night." Prior. 

We will see the land and sea, where, during the 
summer, night sets no limit to work; where nature 
exhibits her strange and mysterious works of art 
in the magic light of one long, continuous day, and 
then drapes them with the somber mantle cast over 
them by the unbroken night of the stern arctic win- 
ter of equal duration. For two months I will look 
upon a new world, a new race, a new flora, a new 
fauna, where nature wears a new face and will be 
made to appreciate more than ever the value of 
travel as a means of education, as 

"Nothing has such power to broaden the mind 
as the ability to investigate systematically 
and truly all that comes under observation in 
life." Marcus Aurelius. 


There is always a peculiar fascination about the 
unknown, the strange, the mysterious, and, as a rule, 

"Everything unknown is magnified." Tacitus. 

To see so much of the wonders within the Arctic 
Circle as is held out to us by a two-months' cruise 
of the "Erik" is no small privilege. The "Erik," 
one of the veterans of the North Pole fleet, has been 
in the service of Commander Peary during two of 
his former expeditions, and this time, as before, will 
penetrate deeply into the frozen zone, the exist- 
ence of which the ancient classic authors had some 
knowledge of: 

"There is an icy zone on the extreme borders 
of Scythia, a melancholy waste, barren and 
treeless; there dwell sluggish, cold, pallid 
looks, trembling ague, and pining want." 

In visiting such an unfrequented region like the 
Arctic Circle in search of knowledge and recreation, 
it's doubly important to remember: 

"The use of traveling is to regulate the imag- 
ination by reality, and, instead of thinking 
how things may be, to see them as they are." 

Dr. Johnson. 

Inspired with such good intentions, and happy 
in anticipation of what this vacation had in store 
for me, I left Chicago, July 3rd, for Sydney, Cape 
Breton, over the Grand Trunk Railway, making 
connection with the Intercolonial Railway at Mon- 
treal, and arrived at Sydney, via Tfuro at 10:30 
P. M., July 6th, interrupting the journey by stopping 


over eighteen hours at Montreal. Contrary to niy 
expectations I found the trip over the Intercolonial 
Railway very comfortable, good service, fine sleepers, 
and excellent dining cars. The "Erik" was expected 
to sail from Sydney on the tenth of July, but did not 
come into this port until the thirteenth. Much had 
to be done to get her ready for the long voyage to 
her destination, Etah, Greenland, or possibly Cape 
Sabine, Ellesmere Land. She came with a ballast 
of stone, which had to be unloaded, after which 
six hundred and fifty tons of coal were taken on 
board, which with sixty-five puncheons of whale 
meat, constituted her cargo for the present Peary 


The "Erik" is a sealing vessel. She is a staunch, 
seven hundred ton steam schooner, built in Scotland, 
forty years ago. She has made many trips in 
search of seal and whale, and, on two former occa- 
sions, was chartered by Commander Peary. This, 
will, therefore, be her third voyage in the service of 
this enthusiastic and indefatigable explorer. When 
she came into the harbor, the first thing that at- 
tracted my attention, and marked her as a vessel 
intended for perilous service, were two immense 
barrels securely fastened to the fore and aft masts 
near the very tip of these immense trunks of hardy 
pine, at least seventy feet above the deck. These 
are the so-called crows' nests. These lofty lookouts 
are reached by a rope ladder, and the sailor enters 
through a hole in the bottom of the barrel, which is 
closed, after he has entered, by a trap door. Only 
the head of the watch projects over the rim of the 
barrel, and from this swaying, dizzy height he scans 
the vast fields of floating ice for seal and open lanes, 
locates icebergs, shallow water, and rocks, and 
sometimes, when the fog is dense on deck, the look- 
out is above the gray mantle of mist and fog, and 
their inmate enjoys the sunlight and unobscured 
vision, and is in a position to point out to the offi- 
cers on deck a safe course for the ship. 



The "Erik" is an old fashioned ship and has 
no accommodations for passengers, and few con- 
veniences for officers and crew. It is fitted out as 
an ice-fighter, with a strong, wooden frame work, 
with an outer cover of square oak planks, more 
than a foot in thickness. The woodwork is as solid 
and sound now as it was forty years ago, notwith- 
standing the hard service to which she has been 
exposed during that long space of time. 

The entire aspect of this veteran vessel does 
credit to the name she bears, as "Erik the Red" was 
one of the most daring of seafaring men. Strength, 
endurance and simplicity are her most conspicuous 
qualities. Rude and stern in her appearance, she 
imparts confidence in those who, by choice or ne- 
cessity, have to depend on her for safety during 
the long and perilous voyage, deep into and back 
from the "Heart of the Arctics." 

Material repairs were made a number of years 
ago, but the thirty-seven horse-power engine has 
been in use for thirty years and remains in excellent 
working condition today. The master of the ship 
on this trip is Capt. Job Vine, who, for many years, 
has served in a similar capacity on sailing vessels, 
plying between St. Johns, Newfoundland, and 
Brazilian ports. This voyage proved an unusually 
trying one to him, as he had never been in the 
arctic regions and was not familiar with the trouble- 
some currents and the treacherous coast of Green- 
land, The crew, including the officers, is made up 
of nineteen men, all of them hardy Newfoundland 
sailors and experienced sealers and fishermen. 



The vessel has just returned from the annual 
sealing trip off the coasts of Labrador and New- 
foundland and in the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The 
accounts given by the officers of this annual seal- 
fishery in the early spring may interest the reader, 
as the information I obtained concerning this in- 
dustry is from first source, hence reliable. 



Newfoundland seal-fishing is comparatively of 
recent origin and has been a source of a large amount 
of wealth to the Colony. Cod-fishing has been pur- 
sued for nearly four hundred years; seal-fishing 
commenced as an industry at the beginning of the 
last century. Rev. M. Harvey, of St. Johns, has 
made a careful study of this industry, and Levi 
G. Chase has published a very instructive report 
on the same subject, and from these sources, I have 
gleaned much in writing the introduction to this 

Generally the seal-killers forced their way 
through the ice, by which nature had guarded the 
helpless baby seals. Few people know that the fur 
used in making garments is obtained exclusively 
from the young white seal the skin being dyed to 
suit the taste of the customers of this expensive 
and fashionable article of winter clothing. The 
once happy breeding places of the mother seals be- 
came, now, every spring, a slaughter-house, stained 
with the blood of their slain infants; and yet they 
return year after year to witness a repetition of the 
same cruel scene. Seal-killing (we can not speak 
of hunting in this connection) commenced by taking 
the animals in nets which were placed between the 
shore and some island rock at no great distance. 
As the animals migrated in fabulous numbers, a 



few would become entangled in the nets. The 
same primitive method is still made use of in some 
parts of the northern coasts of Newfoundland and 
Labrador, especially in capturing bay-seal which is 

The mother seals not infrequently make their 
breeding ground on the shore where the young seal 
are killed with a club and the old ones are shot. In 
1894, 120,000 seals, old and young, were killed on 
shore. At first the seal was hunted only for its fur. 
Seal-oil was first mentioned as an article of export 
from Newfoundland in 1749 the value of the yield 
for that year being estimated at $5,000. With the 
depreciations in the value of seal-fur and the de- 
crease in the annual yield, the blubber of the seal 
plays a more important role as an article of export. 

The next progress in seal-killing was made by 
fitting out small schooners of from 30 to 50 tons, 
manned each by 12 to 18 men. These schooners 
would generally leave the different harbors about 
the 2ist of March in order to escape the equinoctial 
gales, or "St. Patrick's brush," as it was called. 
Experience soon demonstrated that the proper time 
for leaving port was the first of March, in order to 
reach the young or white seal before they had grown 
sufficiently strong to take to the water. As many 
as a hundred vessels used to leave the harbor 
of St. Johns every spring for the icefields. So re- 
munerative was this industry that its expansion 
was wonderfully rapid up to 1815, when the whole 
business of the country sustained a severe shock 
by the termination of the wars between England 

1 1 " 


and France. Statistics go to show that in that 
year only 126,315 seals were caught, while in 1844 
the number reached the astonishing figure of 685,530. 
In 1857 there were 400 vessels, of from 70 to 
200 tons engaged in the seal-fishery, their united 
crews numbering 13,000 men. The average annual 
value of the seal-fishery at that period was from a 
million to a million and a quarter dollars. In 1863 
steamers commenced to take the place of sailing 
vessels. This change has revolutionized seal-fishery. 
In 1882 there were 25 steamers with an average 
tonnage of about 500 tons. 

The use of steam in place of sails has reduced 
the number of hands engaged in this industry more 
than one half. The fishermen have lost by this 
change. The men now receive only one-third of 
the value of the seals taken by each vessel, instead 
of one half, which was their share in sailing vessels. 
The great difficulty now with them is to get berths 
on board the steamers, and hundreds of applicants 
are left behind every year. Some years the losses 
to men and ship owners are great. In 1894, the 
21 steamers engaged captured only 152,821 seals. 
It is a mistake, therefore, to suppose that the cap- 
italists receive an undue share of the profits. Their 
losses, when the animal catch is small, are very 
serious and the returns on their heavy outlay are, 
on an average, very moderate. Some years, on the 
other hand, both crew and ship owners have a rich 
harvest. The largest bill ever made in a St. 
Johns steamer was that made by the crew of the S. 
S. "Nimrod," in 1871, a crew of 140 men made $208.47 


each, in two trips 28,087 seals were taken. In 
1900, 19 steamers brought in 353,276 seals, 
the number of men employed being 3,760 and the 
men's profits averaged from $3.16 to $58.48 
each. The risk of property to the ship owners is 
great; for example, during thirty years, from 1863 
to 1893, no less than 16 steamers were lost by being 
crushed between the ice. No lives were lost, as the men 
saved themselves by taking refuge on the ice, from 
where they were picked up by other steamers or 
they reached the shore by walking over the ice-floes. 
The Gulf of St. Lawrence and the coasts of Green- 
land and Labrador are the favorite sealing grounds 
of the Newfoundland fishermen. Parties in St. 
Johns control, to a large extent, this industry at 
the present 'time, and from this city most of the 
yield in fur and oil finds its way into the home and 
foreign markets, . 

About twenty steam schooners, manned by from 
2,000 to 3,000 men, that is 100 to 300 men to 
each vessel, constitute the present annual sealing 
force. A recent law, intended to protect this valu- 
able fur-bearing animal, limits the vessel to one 
sealing trip a year. The month of March is the 
sealing season, and lasts from twenty-five to thirty 
days. The seals come to their breeding grounds in 
countless numbers during the last week in March, 
the average time being about the twenty-fifth of the 
month. They congregate in compact herds on the 
smooth ice. All of the young seal are born within 
two or three days. Twins are very rare. The 
young seal, three weeks old when the coat is white, 



yields the valuable fur. The skins of the old animals 
are tanned and are converted into leather, the fur 
being worthless. The mother seals leave the breed- 
ing grounds as soon as the young can take care of 
themselves. The season, therefore, is a short one. 
The steamers leave St. Johns about the same time, 
and then a race begins to reach the breeding grounds 
and locate the herds. This year the crew of the 
"Erik" found three herds, estimated at 15,000, 
out of which 7,000 to 8,000 were taken. As soon as 
a herd is in sight, the steamer sails slowly along the 
margin of the ice. The men, armed with a sealing 
hook, jump off and land on the pans of ice, when 
they are divided into groups of about ten each, 
under the command of a foreman, an experienced 
sealer, for each set. After the organization of the 
crew has been completed, and the manner of attack 
on the animals planned, the herd is surrounded 
and the slaughter begins. The work of destruction 
does not deserve the term "seal-hunting," as it con- 
sists largely in killing the helpless infant seals by 
clubbing them to death. The club is a heavy stick 
about six feet in length, mounted on one end with a 
gaff, consisting of a spearlike projection and a hook. 
This rude weapon is not only used in dealing the 
death-blow, but, with the hook, animals are jerked 
out of the water and drawn upon the ice'. It is also 
an exceedingly useful implement to the men in 
jumping from pan to pan of the pack ice, and in 
case a man makes a misstep, it aids him in escaping 
drowning until he can extricate himself. If his efforts 
are fruitless, a nearby companion uses his gaff in 
landing him on the ice. 


The baby seal is easily killed by a blow on the 
head, others are kicked to death. The mother seal 
remains faithful to the last in defending her offspring, 
and if there are not enough baby seals to make the 
catch remunerative, the old animals are killed in 
their turn by clubbing or shooting. Even the 
hardy seamen speak of this slaughter with emotion. 
Frightened almost to death by the presence of so 
many men, and the work of carnage, these helpless, 
innocent little animals lift their tearful eyes and 
utter their mournful, baby cry in appeals for mercy; 
but no amount of supplication can save them from 
certain death; the ruthless slaughter goes on until 
every baby seal is counted among the dead. The 
extermination of the new-born is always complete. 
Many of the old animals escape, only to return the 
next year to meet a similar cruel reception. The 
slaughter of the innocents completed, the task of 
skinning the carcasses begins. The season being 
so short and the competition keen, everything 
must be done with as little loss of time as possible, 
to clear up the field in order to find and exterminate 
another herd. These men are experts in removing 
the valuable parts of the animals killed the skin 
and the thick layer of fat between it and the under- 
lying muscles, both of which are removed together 
with a few strokes of the knife. An incision is 
made, with one stroke of a sharp knife, from one 
end of the animal to the other, on the ventral side, 
and, in a minute and a half, skin and fat are severed 
from what remains of the carcass, which is left on 
the ice to be devoured by flesh-eating animals. One 


flipper is left attached to the skin to facilitate the 
handling of it. The steamer hovers in the neigh- 
borhood of the bloody field of the dead, and with 
hooks and winch, the skins are brought on deck and 
later stored away in the hold of the ship, where they 
are preserved by the use of salt and ice. 

To make this business remunerative, each vessel 
ought to take about 30,000 animals. The crew is 
entitled to the value of every third seal, and the 
captain receives besides, four per cent, of the value 
of the cargo. The cargo is sold by weight, the 
present value being from $3.50 to $4,00 a hundred- 
weight. Sealing is not as profitable now as it was 
a few years ago, when the product yielded as high 
as $9.00 per hundred- weight. Formerly most of 
the raw material was sent to England; at the present 
time it finds a ready sale in the United States, and 
the demand for it is on the increase. The price of 
the fur vacillates from year to year, the fluctuation 
depending largely on the estimate in which the fur 
is held in fashionable society. Notwithstanding 
this wanton, wholesale animal slaughter, old sealers 
claim that there has not been a material diminution 
in the number of animals which migrate to these 
breeding grounds every spring. 

The competition between the different crews, for 
obvious reasons, is a very keen one. An experi- 
enced master and an able-bodied, active, fearless 
crew weigh heavily in the balance of success, but 
luck plays its pranks here as well as in other voca- 
tions. If a herd is sighted by several sealers at 
the same time, a rush takes place, but the different 


crews are held together by the foremen and pursue 
preconcerted methods established among sealers 
and fix their claims on the dead animals by planting 
their respective ship flags on the pans of ice on 
which the seals are killed. Stealing of dead animals 
or their skins subjects the convicted culprits to a 
heavy fine. 



Waiting is always unpleasant, and sometimes 
painful; suspense and uncertainty foster discontent 
and test patience to the extreme of endurance. 
Commander Peary was anxious that the "Erik," his 
supply ship, should leave port as soon as possible, 
and sent an order, by wire, from New York, to that 
effect. The unloading of ballast and loading of the 
coal cargo required much more time than was an- 
ticipated. Doctor Sohon and I boarded the vessel 
Saturday afternoon, July i$th, confident that we 
would get away that same evening, or at least some- 
time during the night; but disappointment followed 
disappointment. Coaling was suspended promptly 
at midnight, as Sabbath day is more strictly observed 
in England and her possessions than in any other 
country in the world. The English sailor, when 
in port, claims Sunday as a day of rest, and abso- 
lutely refuses to do any kind of work, unless his ship 
should be in danger. A Sunday aboard ship in a 
coaling dock is not a pleasant experience. The 
captain assured us that he would sail at ten o'clock 
A. M., Monday. The coal heavers, however, did not 
put in their appearance until Monday morning. 
The work then began in earnest. From the elevated 
coal docks, car after car discharged its contents 
over chutes through the hatchway into the capa- 



cious hold of the ship, amidst clouds of dust which 
penetrated every crevice and found its way into the 
galley, dining room, and cabins, in spite of all efforts 
to exclude it. Officers, crew and we two passengers, 
stained black with this impalpable coal-dust, looked 
like negroes before the 650 tons of coal were on 
board. When the coaling was finished, the whole 
deck looked like an entrance to a coal mine. The 
hold of the vessel and the bunkers were gorged with 
the precious fuel to be consumed in the far North, 
in the coming effort to reach the pole. Thirty- 
three tons were in bags piled on deck, and then a 
mountain of loose coal occupied more than half 
of the deck, leaving only a very small free space 
around the galley and cabin entrance. When the 
vessel was ready to sail, one of the officers was 
missing, retarding again the departure. He had 
gone on shore and, although Sydney is supposed to 
be a temperance town, he found enough firewater 
to make him forget the hour of sailing. The steam 
whistle screeched and screeched unmercifully to 
remind him of his delay. He finally came, and we 
left the dock at half-past six o'clock Monday even- 
ing, July i yth. 

After passing North Sydney and Sydney Mines, 
and leaving the entrance of the magnificent harbor, 
we were in full view of the great Atlantic Ocean ; and 
after the unpleasant experiences of the last two 
days, we were in a fit state of mind to comprehend 
and appreciate the meaning of: 

"The sea! the sea! the open sea! 
The blue, the fresh, the ever free!" Procter. 


Commander Peary had made arrangements for 
me to occupy the captain's room, the only cabin 
deserving such a term in the vessel. As we, the only 
two passengers, had our own provisions and cook, 
we were independent of the officers' mess, and set 
to work at once to establish our own housekeeping 
during the long voyage to and back from the arctic 

The weather was all that possibly could be de- 
sired a cloudless sky; a gentle breeze from the 
southwest; the temperature 56 F.; the atmosphere 
bracing and dry. In the long, peaceful, beautiful, 
bewitching twilight which lingered until the hour of 
ten, the green coast of Cape Breton gradually, almost 
imperceptibly, disappeared in the distance and 
our heavily burdened steamer glided over the rip- 
pling surface of the ocean as smoothly as a birch 
canoe over the sleeping bosom of a tiny, silvery, 
inland lake. As the soft twilight gave way to the 
darkness of the summer night, we became conscious 
that it 

"Hath in her sober livery all things clad." 


The somber darkness was of short duration. 
The furl-grown smiling moon soon made her appear- 
ance and chased away the darkness that had hardly 

"The moon arose, clad o'er in light, 
With thousand stars attending on her train; 
With her they rise, with her they set again." 
i Cowley. 


This first night on the ocean, with the pure, cool, 
bracing air, after eight months of incessant toil and 
a week of anxious waiting for the ship that should 
bring us the much-needed annual rest and recrea- 
tion, was like a calm after a storm like a sunshine 
after many days of clouds, fogs, and mists. The 
soft, enchanting moonshine and the myriads of stars 
twinkling in the pale blue dome of the sky riveted 
our attention for hours, as 

"Nobody looks at what is immediately be- 
fore them; we are all employed in gazing at the 
stars." Cicero. 

The next day after a refreshing sleep, we found 
ourselves near the west coast of Newfoundland, with 
Cape Race still in sight behind us. The whole day 
we sailed along the coast, made interesting by the 
rugged range of mountains, undulating and dentated, 
intercepted here and there by bays, and clad with 
pale green grass and the dark foliage of stunted pine 
and fir. This coast range, at some points, attains a 
considerable height; Mount St. Gregory, one of the 
highest peaks, rising to an altitude of 2826 feet. 
Toward noon we saw the first snow in the form of 
white flecks, in some of the deep gulches on the 
mountain sides. The coast scenery of the Bay of 
Islands, as seen from the deck of the steamer, is 
one of the finest in America. During the afternoon 
we saw the first arctic bird, a tern, closely allied to 
the gull family. The average temperature during 
the last twenty-four hours was 57 F.; very little 
breeze and the sky slightly overcast. 

Wednesday, July i8th. There was lightning 


and thunder last evening, raining hard all night, 
foggy along the coast, and a drizzling rain during 
the forenoon. At noon we met the first icebergs, 
six in number, when in sight of Greenely Island 
and the mainland of Labrador. These icebergs 
retained their aspect of virgin purity, but showed 
all stages of disintegration, from the destructive 
effects of the aggressive July sun during their slow 
passage through Belle Isle Strait. The low coast of 
Labrador is treeless and only lightly draped with 
a sward of pale green grass. 

A little fishermen's village, well sheltered by 
surrounding hills, which we passed in Blanc Sablon, 
is the place selected by Doctor Grenfell, the Father 
Damien of Labrador, for a hospital for the fisher- 
men population of that part of Labrador. This is 
a most excellent choice for the people who live here 
throughout the entire year, and for the transient 
fishermen who frequent this part of the Labrador 
coast during the fishing season, and who, without 
such a humane institution, would find it impossible 
to secure medical aid in case of injury or disease. 
As we approached the Strait of Belle Isle, a narrow 
passage of water, on an average fifteen miles wide 
and fifty miles long, between the coasts of Labrador 
and Newfoundland, we met several schooners en- 
gaged in fishing for cod. The coasts of Labrador 
and Newfoundland are famous for their remuner- 
ative cod-fisheries. As we entered the strait a 
thick fog obscured the coasts, and all officers were 
at their posts, straining their eyes for sources of 
danger as the steamer crept along at half speed, 


We were ^shown many places made memorable by 
shipwrecks. Belle Isle Strait has a bad reputation 
among seafaring men on account of the frequency 
with which dense fogs settle here. One of the 
officers, an experienced whaler, sealer, and fisherman, 
related to me some very interesting facts concerning 


Of Newfoundland's population of about 200,000, 
nearly 60,000 are engaged in catching and curing 
fish. The average annual value of the cod-fishery 
is $4,500,000, of the seal-fishery, $600,000, of the 
herring and salmon fisheries, $250,000; of the lobster 
fishery, $60,000. The total value for 1902 was 
$8,956,992. Cod-fishery is the summer industry 
of a large part of the fishermen population of New- 
foundland. Most of the business is in the hands 
of a few St. Johns firms. The work is done by the 
use of small schooners, each of which has a crew of 
about ten men, and which carries four or five dories. 
The fishing is done near shore by the use of nets, 
and farther out by trawling. When the captain 
of the schooner has selected the fishing ground, the 
dories set out, and each man attends to his own 
trawl. The trawl used here is a stout line about a 
mile in length, to which are attached 1500 cod hooks, 
baited with fragments of the squid; the ends of the 
line are fastened to an anchored float. The fish 
caught, after being properly dressed, are salted, either 
on board the schooner, or at the fishing station. 
The drying is done on wooden racks with or without 
an intervening layer of small branches of the fragrant 


fir. Dried codfish constitutes an important article of 
food over a large part of the surface of the earth, 
hence it has always a ready sale and commands a 
good price. From the liver of the cod, the medicinal 
cod-liver oil is obtained. It is strange that, so far, no 
attempts have been made to convert the parts of the 
fish not used into a fertilizer, as is being done now 
with the waste material of the whale. 


I have already referred to the dangers the sea- 
men face in passing the Strait of Belle Isle. We 
were made aware of these soon after passing Point 
Amour. The current was unusually strong, a stiff 
breeze set in, and a dense fog made further progress 
imprudent, so the captain decided to find shelter 
for the night in Loup Bay, an excellent little harbor, 
fringed by a small fishermen's hamlet, made up of 
about twenty small frame houses. After dropping 
the anchor, we were safe for the night in the snug 
little harbor and felt: 

"My vessel is in the harbor, reckless of the 
troubled sea. ' ' Terentius. 

The mournful sounds of the fog horn at Point 
Amour, and the intermittent screechings of a steamer, 
fog bound in the strait, were kept up the balance of 
the day and the greater part of the night. A fishing 
schooner in full sail emerged, phantom-like, from the 
fog about the time we entered the harbor, and 
sought the same shelter. It was three o'clock in 
the afternoon when we left the steamer in a row 
boat, headed for the whaling station about a mile 
from the hamlet; and soon after I set, for the first 
time, my feet on Labrador soil. We were courte- 
ously shown this interesting modern establishment 
by the foreman, who explained to us the processes 



which are now employed in converting the giant 
of the sea into oil and fertilizer, after the most valu- 
able part of the animal, the whalebone, has been 

The day before our visit, three black whales 
were brought to the station, and the last one was in 
the process of being cut up. The great slabs of 
blubber had already been converted into oil and the 
immense steam vats were filled with the remaining 
oil-yielding tissues, including the brain, bones and 
muscles. The enormous jaws had been stripped 
of whalebone, which appeared in two separate pieces, 
made up, as they were, of two densely packed, flat- 
fringed segments of whalebone, somewhat in the 
shape of overlapping fans. The rendering estab- 
lishment, a group of brick and frame buildings, is 
supplied with modern machinery, and every part of 
the animal is utilized. The intestines are preserved 
by salting, and later are converted elsewhere into 

In a separate building all refuse is made into a 
fertilizer, which is shipped in bags. A dozen men 
were busy in carving the carcass with large knives, 
fastened to wooden handles. These men are familiar 
with the anatomy of the whale skeleton and are 
marvelously dexterous in the use of these huge 
knives which resemble very much a small scythe. In 
another large building a gang of men was employed in 
curing codfish which were being brought in by the 
fishing schooners, owned by the same firm. Tons of 
salted cod were stored in the warehouse, and many 
more tons were spread over the wooden frameworks 


outside, undergoing a slow process of desiccation. 
The smell in such establishments is anything but 
agreeable to the uninitiated, although the utmost 
cleanliness prevails everywhere. More than an acre 
of ground was covered with wooden racks, upon 
which the black whalebone was undergoing the 
same process. Forty men are employed here, 
throughout the entire season, in disposing of the 
whales and in curing and drying codfish. 

A well-beaten path from the whaling station 
leads along the coast to L'anse de Loup, or Loup 
Bay, the harbor, about a mile distant. We returned 
to the hamlet by this path and on the way I improved 
the opportunity to study the flora of this part of 
the Labrador coast. The flowers, familiar to me 
and in blossom now, make their appearance in the 
neighborhood of Chicago during the last two weeks 
in April. I found here the iris, dandelion, smilax, 
dewberry, gooseberry, ranunculus, buttercup, wild 
strawberry, sorrel and watercresses. Beautiful ferns 
were just peeping through the shallow, boggy 
soil on the side of the terraced mountain and were 
just beginning to unfurl their curled up fronds. 
Dwarf willows were in the act of producing their 
catkins. Tufts of light green grass and stunted fir 
and alder made up much of the verdure of the 
mountainside. Much snow remained in places 
sheltered from the spring sun, and numerous bubbling 
rivulets of the purest water intersected the green 
swards and the diminutive forest of stunted, storm- 
tossed trees. The little hamlet has one public 
building, a small frame structure, with many windows, 


which is used as a school house, public meeting 
place, and church. In the last capacity, it serves 
Catholics and Protestants alike. Vicious-looking 
dogs guarded the doorsteps of nearly all the huts, 
which reminded us of the fact that we had passed 
beyond the limits of wagon roads and the horse 
as a beast of burden. Most of the huts had little 
vegetable gardens in front of or behind them, and 
in some of them I saw patches of vigorous rhubarb 
and potato plants just emerging from the 
loose, sandy soil, and cabbage plants set out only a 
few days before. A number of icebergs were stranded 
on the shore of the harbor, others remained mo- 
tionless in the pacific water, all of which, when the 
night set, loomed up like specters in the darkness. 


"Each bay with fog innumerable swarms, and 


Of fish, that with their fins and shining scales 
Glide under the green waves, in sculls that oft 
Bank the mid sea." Milton. 

The capelin (Mallotus villosus) is a small salt- 
water fish, which, at certain seasons of the year, is 
found in fabulous numbers on the coasts of New- 
foundland, Iceland, Alaska, and Greenland. We were 
treated to a rare and interesting phenomenon, illus- 
trating the abundance of marine life, the evening 
we spent at Loup Bay a real capelin run. The 
capelin is a small fish about four inches in length, 
a kind of smelt that comes to the Labrador coast 
regularly every year during spawning time, and 


after a few weeks disappears as suddenly and mys- 
teriously as it came. This migration the fishermen 
call a "capelin run." The capelin season begins 
about June 25th and is over about the middle of 
August. The fish seek the shallow water near the 
shore, where they congregate in fabulous numbers 
and, rubbing with the ventral side against the sandy 
bottom, deposit the spawn, a performance the 
fishermen call "rolling." Fishermen's stories, as a 
rule, are not noted for veracity and some will, un- 
doubtedly, regard my account of the capelin run 
I saw as an exaggeration of what really occurred. 
The fact, however, remains that as we walked along 
the sandy shore about sundown, the clear, shallow 
water was made black by wriggling masses of these 
little creatures, entirely obscuring the sandy bottom. 
Many who came too near the edge of the water were 
thrown by the waves on the beach, and hun- 
dreds of dead fish were thrown backward and' for- 
ward by the lapping waves. One of the sailors 
secured a cast net, and in three casts landed two 
bucketfuls of the fish, all of them nearly uniform 
in size. The numerous dogs patrolled the shore and 
helped themselves to fresh fish as they were being 
thrown on the beach. We could now understand 
the contented appearance and good behavior of 
these ugly, wolf -like animals. In front of every 
fisherman's hut, salted and unsalted capelin were 
being dried; the former as food for man, the latter 
as a winter supply for the dogs. 

Another proof of the abundance of fish in this 
part of the Labrador coast was given us when we 


returned on board the "Erik." During our absence 
two of the sailors and our cook amused themselves 
by fishing for tomcod. No need of bait or special 
skill here. The method employed might not satisfy 
the sportsman, but it brought the fish on deck. The 
tomcod is so plentiful in these waters that the fishing 
is done with baitless hooks. A double hook in the 
shape of a miniature anchor, with a sinker immedi- 
ately above it, is put at the end of the line. After 
the hook has reached a certain depth, the line resting 
on the gunwale is suddenly jerked up two or three 
feet, and this see-saw motion is kept up until one 
of the fish, attracted by the glittering, moving ob- 
ject, is hooked and hauled on deck. More than a 
pailful of small cod were caught in this simple manner 
in less than two hours. 


Whale hunting, as practised in the Greenland 
and Labrador waters, has undergone remarkable 
changes during the last few years. The old whalers, 
in open whale-boats, and experts in the use of the 
hand harpoon, would find it necessary to-day to learn 
new lessons in the successful practice of their voca- 
tion. The tactics of whale-hunting have been 
revolutionized by the substitution of the steam 
launch for the rowboat and by the use of the cannon, 
instead of arm and hand force, in throwing the 
deadly harpoon. Whales of all sorts have become 
scarce in these waters and the sperm-whale, the 
most valuable, has become almost extinct. The 
sport part of whaling has given place to means of 


destruction calculated to secure the game with the 
greatest degree of certainty, and in the shortest 
possible space of time. The hand harpoon was not 
a fatal weapon. It served the purpose of tiring out 
the animal, after a long and dangerous chase, when 
the exhausted beast could be approached with greater 
safety with killing weapons. In the struggle for 
life the animal had some show of escape and even 
of victory. T^-day victory is altogether on the side 
of the pursuers, with no risk to life on their part. 
To make the waning business of whaling a paying 
industry, the scarcity of the game makes it necessary 
to secure as many as possible of the animals that 
are discovered. 

The black whale (baleen), the species usually 
hunted here, has a swimming speed of ten to 
eleven knots an hour. He can not live under 
water for more than an hour and twenty minutes 
at a time without coming to the surface for air; 
hence, when once discovered, he can be followed 
and kept in sight by a crew in a steam launch until 
he is sufficiently tired out to come within range of 
the cannon harpoon. The harpoon now in use is a 
vicious and most deadly weapon. It consists of a bar 
of iron about four feet long, and about the size of the 
forearm above the wrist. The penetrating end of 
the harpoon has a sharp point and four enormous 
ugly looking barbs which lie close to the stem of the 
weapon when it ente" the body of the whale, and 
are spread by the ex -sion of a cartridge fired 
by a cap when the harpoon strikes a solid resist- 
ance. This giant harpoon is fired from a cannon, 


three feet in length, mounted and operated on the 
bow of the steam launch. This harpoon not only 
grapples the huge animal, but often the explosion 
in the interior of the body kills almost instantaneously. 
If this is not the case, the firing is repeated as often 
as the animal comes to the surface and is within 
range. The first and all subsequent shots are fired 
at close range, never more than forty-eight feet. 
A black whale, of average size, yields about $1,000 
clear profit to the firm. The value of a sperm- 
whale sometimes reaches the enormous figure of 


Friday, July 2ist, we left Loup Bay harbor at 
3:30 A. M., the fog having thinned out into a mist. 
We were soon out of sight of land and surrounded 
by icebergs of all dimensions, from the size of a large 
dwelling house to remnants not larger than the 
ice-blocks in a refrigerator. 

"And now there came both mist and snow, 
And it grew wondrous cold, 
And ice most high came floating by, 
As green as emerald." Coleridge. 

As we proceeded and again came in view of Lab- 
rador, the amount of snow on the mountains in- 
creased and the icebergs were larger. Owing to 
a cloudy sky, a drizzling rain, and a misty condition 
of the atmosphere, the Newfoundland coast never 
came in sight. The eastern inlet of the strait, near 
Battle Harbor, presented a beautiful panoramic 
view. Hundreds of icebergs had congregated here, 
many of them stranded in the shallow water, after 
their voyage from the far North. Although the 
atmosphere was misty, I could count fifty icebergs 
from the deck of the steamer, surrounding us on all 
sides. Their marble whiteness and size were inten- 
sified and magnified in the prevailing mist. Many 
of these monster masses of solid ice were at least 
300 feet in width, and rose 120 feet above the level 
of the sea. As the submerged part of an iceberg 



is approximately seven times greater than that 
above the water, one can realize the enormity of 
the size of these giant offsprings of the Greenland 

Dr. Kane, in estimating the size of an iceberg in 
Melville Bay, and it was not the largest one he saw, 
reached the conclusion that it represented sixty-one 
millions of tons in weight. All of the largest icebergs 
had become arrested in their slow, southern course, 
where the depth of the strait is given at sixty 
fathoms; another indication of their gigantic size. 
A few of these bergs had brought their moraine with 
them; others had lost their marble whiteness, on 
summit or side, by turning over and rubbing against 
the sandy bottom of the sea. Many of them were 
cracked and fissured, and all of them exhibited indi- 
cations of a slow process of disintegration from the 
effects of rain, warm sunshine, and the swift current. 
These elements had sculptured summit, sides and 
base into strange, fantastic designs, some of them 
of exquisite, artistic beauty. Marble white, delicate 
blue, and emerald green were their prevailing colors, 
while above the surface of the water, blue shown in 
the fissures and fresh surfaces, and a delicate green 
of the submerged base. Nature's chisel had done 
some beautiful carving in the form of grooves, ridges, 
cup-shaped depressions, pillars, steps, verandas, 
porticos, gables, towers, steeples, doors, windows, 
outlines of human and animal faces. Some of them 
showed the outlines of churches, houses, ships, and 
fortresses, etc. This part of Belle Isle Strait is an 
immense cemetery for these travelers from the arctic 


regions. No one knows how long they have been 
on their journey. They would never have met such 
a cruel fate if they had remained where they were 
born; but their cradle was too deep into which they 
fell when they separated involuntarily from their 
glacier mother and crashed into the cold bosom of 
the ocean, with the noise of thunder, bounding and 
rebounding, rocking and swaying, in the tumultuous 
water, infuriated by their fall, and on the return of 
calm, they drifted helplessly with the current in 
the direction of a climate deadly to their existence. 
Here they are, aji army dying of a fatal disease. It is 
only a question of a short time when they will return 
to the element out of which they were moulded by 
the icy hand of the pola.r cold. Their sweet water 
will only serve to dilute the brine of the greedy 

Here, among these silent sentinels, guarding the 
inlet of the strait, we found a large fleet of schooners 
engaged in fishing for cod. The Labrador coast is 
a favorite place for this industry, and the nearby 
Battle Harbor is a gathering point for the fishermen 
and serves as a safe refuge in times of danger on the 
sea. The village of Battle Harbor is comprised of 
about twenty fishermen's huts, and is noted for being 
the headquarters of Dr. Grenfell, the well known 
missionary physician of the Labrador coast. For 
the last twelve years, this devoted, tireless worker 
in the cause of humanity, has given all his ener- 
gy to the spiritual and physical well-being of the 
fishermen, who earn a scanty livelihood by plying 
their dangerous business along the misty, foggy, 


chilly Labrador coast. One of the several little 
hospitals, established by the untiring efforts of 
Doctor Grenfell, is located at Battle Harbor. The 
Canadian government has presented him with a 
small coast steamer, which serves him a good purpose 
in visiting the different villages along the coast 
during the summer, and in the winter, he makes 
his trips over ice and snow in a dog sledge. Of such 
a devoted, self-sacrificing man we can say in truth: 

"Men approach nearer to the gods in no way 
than by giving safety to men." Cicero, 

The hardships these fisherfolk have to endure in 
these northern waters, during the sealing season, is 
best shown by a few extracts from the last year's 
log-book of the master of the "Erik." The start 
was made from St. Johns, Newfoundland, March 
1 2th. The following day at noon, this record was 
made: "Ten ships in sight, all working north, 
through sheet ice. Gray Islands in sight, bearing 
northwest twenty miles. 4 P. M. Thirteen ships in 
sight, all making way through sheet ice. The 
afternoon of the same day, and all next day, severe 
snow storms were encountered and the ships, under 
full steam, had to break through the ice. March 
1 5th a herd of 1,000 seal was discovered and 530 
animals were taken." 

"March i6th, 12 M. Wind east, with snow. All 
hands out, working on ice. Ship picking up pans, 
(dead seal on floating ice). 6 P. M. All hands 
on board with ninety-four flags out (flag planted 
on an ice-floe secures ownership of the dead) . Reports 


1,000 seals panned. 8 P. M. Wind east, strong, 
with snow; ship picking up pans. 9 P. M. Burnt 
down (ship stopped, fire low). March iyth 12 M. 
Wind northeast, strong, ship picking up seals. 4 
P. M. Ship making good way through sheet ice, pick- 
ing up seal. 8 P. M. All hands on board. Reports 
8,000 seals panned. Ship burnt down in heavy ice." 
The next day the log says: "7 P. M. All hands on 
board with 7,000 seals panned, ship burned down in 
heavy ice." "Ship jammed in heavy ice." "Heavy 
gale". "Snowstorms." "Ship under full steam, 
butting heavy ice." "Burnt down." "Making five 
inches of water per hour." These are expressions 
found on almost every page of the log book and 
give some idea of the hardships a sealer must en- 
counter on these annual trips for seal. The last 
entry was made on April 226.. "12 M. Wind east, 
raining. Laying in seal on the ice. 2 P. M. Tried 
seals, but found them wild. 2:10 P. M. Full speed 
ahead, homeward bound. 4 P. M. Wind south- 
west with thick fog and rain. 12 P. M. Fog lifting." 
It is evident that such cruises for seal are not only 
attended by many hardships, but, also, by no incon- 
siderable risk to life. Jumping from one pan of ice 
to another, although closely packed, in the excite- 
ment of the chase, must necessarily not only result 
occasionally in a cold bath, but in danger by drown- 
ing, in spite of the skilful use of the gaff, and the 
aid of near-by companions. There are other and more 
serious dangers the sealer has to face. A few years ago, 
a sealing vessel, carrying two hundred and one men, 
lost forty- three in a gale and severe snow-storm. 


It was the only vessel which permitted the crew to 
go on the ice that day. When some distance from 
the ship, a sudden, violent gale, accompanied by 
a raging snowstorm, set in, which made the return 
to the ship a matter of extreme difficulty, and forty- 
three perished from the effects of exposure and the 
intense cold. The cod-fishery, during the summer 
months, can by no means be looked upon as a pas- 
time. The frequent drizzling rains, the mists and 
fogs, the chilly weather, and frequent squalls make 
the life on board the schooners and in the open boats 
anything but pleasant. And yet there is, and there 
always has been, a certain degree of fascination 
about the periphery of danger zones best illustrated 
by military and marine life. The seaman is not 
happy unless he is on the sea, and the real soldier 
is out of his element unless there is some prospect 
for him to show his fighting strength and skill. The 
sealing vessels have no difficulty in enlisting the 
services of a full crew year after year. The fact is, 
there are more applications than berths, and the cap- 
tains of the sealers have a large material from which 
to select their crew. As each man receives his share 
of the profits of the trip, the best possible efforts of 
the men thus employed are secured. If the trip is 
a profitable one, each man is benefited in proportion 
to the total gain; if it proves a failure, the loss affects 
them all collectively and individually. 

It is among these fishermen and sealers on the 
bleak coast of Labrador that Dr. Grenfell has cast 
his lot and carries on his humanitarian work, and 
they know how to appreciate it. Along the whole 


coast of Labrador, his name has become a household 
word, and wherever his benevolent work carries 
him, he is looked upon as the benefactor of the men 
who live and toil on the sea. 


After leaving the Strait of Belle Isle and passing 
Battle Harbor, we sailed along the coast of Labrador 
as far as Round Hills Island, which was reached at 
midnight. Few icebergs were seen on this part of 
the route, and most of them were small. The foggy 
condition of the coast excluded the sight of land. 
Saturday morning, July 22d, promised a more 
agreeable day, the fog had vanished and an occasional 
peep of the sun through the broken clouds cheered 
the deck, and the heaving bosom of the ocean was 
the playground of many arctic birds, guillemots, 
and gulls. 

After leaving the dreary, fog-clad coast of Lab- 
rador, the captain set his compass for Holstenborg, 
Greenland, 800 miles almost due north. The track 
of the ship will be over a part of the ocean noted for 
its depth, which, on an average, exceeds a mile. 
The nights are becoming shorter, day after day, as 
we steam northward, being now crowded in between 
late twilight and early dawn; the former in this 
latitude, at this time of the year, does not vanish 
until 10 P. M., and dawn creeps in at half -past two 
in the morning. Toward evening, the first day 
out, the long swells of the sea were lashed by a stiff 
gale, which soon broke the long swells into short, 
choppy, foam-crested waves. It was then we were 
reminded of the beautiful lines: 



"The twilight is sad and cloudy; 
The wind blows wild and free, 
And like the wings of sea-birds 
Flash the white caps of the sea." 


The little steamer, groaning under the heavy 
cargo of coal, responded gracefully to the wild 
movements of the sea, and assumed the gait so 
pleasing to the lover of the sea a compromise be- 
tween pitching and rolling. Once out of the Labra- 
dor current, we looked in vain for icebergs and, 
from the appearance and action of the sea, and the 
temperature, we could imagine ourselves on the 
much-frequented highway from New York to Eng- 
land this time of the year. 

That July 23d was Sunday, we could not mistake, 
as the crew observed this day of rest as far as could 
be done, even when the vessel was under full sail. 
Up to now, the furnaces were fed with coal from 
the deck. Two men kept the bunkers brimful all 
the time by shoveling coal from the deck into their 
gaping apertures. This day the shovels on deck 
were at rest, and the men who handled them during 
week days, smoked their pipes on deck and in the 
forecastle. The two firemen below remained at 
their posts. Another unmistakable Sunday indica- 
tion was a dish served for breakfast, called "bruise" 
in the sailor language, a mixture of salt codfish, 
steamed biscuits, and slices of bacon, a wholesome 
and savory dish. At the place where we are now, 
half-way between Labrador and Greenland, the 
ocean has a depth of 1,500 fathoms, as indicated on 


the mariner's map. The same authority makes 
the statement that the floor of the ocean, as ascer- 
tained by soundings, shows sand and coral. Coral 
formation, at such great depth, could only have 
taken place when this part of the earth was under 
the influence of a tropic or sub-tropic climate, and 
when the ocean here was a shallow body of water, 
as the coral polyps cannot live below the depth of 
eighteen fathoms of water, and are inhabitants of 
the tropics. This ancient coral-bed, formed ages 
and ages ago, is a silent witness of the insidious 
changes wrought by nature, silently, but progress- 
ively, on the surface of the earth and the floor of 
the mighty ocean. 

We are now on the boundless, trackless ocean, 
far away from the pathways of ships engaged in 
business, commerce, or war. Our route is a lonely, 
deserted one, and there is no use in looking for puffs 
of smoke or sails until we expect to be met by the 
"Roosevelt." The leaden dome of clouds veils the 
sun, which, only for a few moments, could be seen 
through a narrow, moving window cut in the gray 
clouds by an increasing breeze from the land of ice 
and snow. 

Animal life has forsaken us, with the exception 
of a few sea gulls who follow in the wake of the ship 
with an unfailing hope that sooner or later the gen- 
erous steward will reward their perseverance and 
confidence by throwing overboard table and kitchen 
waste, on which they expect to feast. What con- 
stant and persistent sea companions these birds 
are! They are found wherever human beings have 



found their way by sea or ice, and, if they could 
speak, it would be useless for Commander Peary to 
make another attempt to find the pole, as these 
homeless, wandering, fearless, strong-winged birds 
have, undoubtedly, ere this, looked down upon the 
desolate pole, in search of a paradise, peopled 
with fish, harmless, easy of catch, and palatable 
to their tastes. All credit to these tireless sailors 
and intrepid explorers! 


"Bold bird of every clime! 
Swift traveler from pole to pole, 
Citiz'n of the deep ocean, 
Sky, ice and eternal snow, 
Tell the secrets of the pole." 

Monday, July 24th. We have spent the last 
night on board ship. It was a very short one, as 
the dim twilight did not yield to somber night until 
well nigh eleven o'clock, and dawn chased away 
the dying darkness at half-past one in the morning. 
Night is dying a victim of the approaching, con- 
quering midnight sun. The master of day is receding, 
but we are in hot pursuit of him, and to-night will 
witness the last struggle between night and day. 
At midnight, it will be light. Henceforth, for the 
next four weeks, lanterns and lights of any kind 
will be useless. At midnight we will not see the 
sun, but we will see his victory over darkness. 

"Yon light is not daylight, I know it well; 
It is some meteor that the sun exhales, 
To be to thee this night a torch -bearer." 



For us, the star-light nights, for the next four 
weeks, are over. The sun will assert his majesty 
and power by day and by night, and the smaller 
lights of heaven, the moon and the stars, will be 
lost in his overpowering splendor. Continuous 
daylight for at least a month! What an incentive 
for work, and what little inducements to court sleep! 
I have seen the midnight sun, in all his splendor, at 
North Cape, Norway, and remember the short nights 
in Russia, Siberia, and Alaska; and have learned 
from experience what nightless days mean in the 
way of chasing away sleep. During the short summer, 
the Eskimos have no fixed time for sleep, and I 
presume the same uncertainty in dividing the twen- 
ty-four hours properly into time for work and rest 
awaits us. It has been my experience that con- 
tinuous daylight for more than a week or two is 
fatiguing, as custom has taught us to work at least 
as long as the sun shines and reserve at least half 
of the night for rest and sleep ; and habit is a stubborn 
thing, and, only too often, an unconquerable master. 
We had a clear, although cloudy day with a strong 
breeze until noon, when a dense fog set in, the sea 
became smooth, and an icy wind met us all indi- 
cations that we were nearing an ice-field. This 
suspicion was soon confirmed by the looming up, in 
the dense fog, of a number of immense icebergs. 
Caution now became necessary. The sails, which 
had been made use of since morning to increase the 
speed and steady the vessel, were hauled in, and, 
at half speed, the little ship crawled along slowly 
between the bergs. In a few hours we emerged 


from the fog into the clear, bracing atmosphere, 
when only a few icebergs were sighted in the dis- 
tance; evidently the fog was hovering over the 
congregation of numerous large bergs. In passing 
through the fog, the whistle remained silent, because, 
in this desert ocean, there was no need of announc- 
ing our presence as there was nothing here but the 
icebergs, and these are not known to get out of the 
way of any one. Late in the evening, we obtained 
a glimpse of the pale sun through a break in the 
leaden clouds, and, about the same time, encoun- 
tered a school of whales gamboling near the vessel 
and throwing jets of water high into the air through 
the spiracles or blow-holes. One of them, in his 
curiosity, came almost to the side of the ship, where 
he appeared, an enormous black mass rising high 
above the surface of the water. Having satisfied 
himself as to what the ship really was, he plunged 
head foremost, into the green element and disap- 
peared as suddenly as he came into sight. We had 
nothing to fear from these monsters of the sea. 
Formerly sailors in small crafts did. 

"Seamen have a custom when they meet a 
whale, to fling him out an empty tub by way of 
amusement, to divert him from laying violent 
hands upon the ship." Swift. 

We were secure, and as we had no evil design 
on these giants of the sea, the meeting passed off 
without accident or bloodshed. Sixty feet is about 
the maximum length of the mysticetus, or Greenland 
whale. Mr. Scoresby found that of 322 animals, 
in the capture of which he was concerned, none 


occurred exceeding fifty-eight feet in length; and 
he, therefore, places no reliance on the report of 
any specimen exceeding seventy feet. The jets of 
spray and water, thrown into the air when they 
spouted, reached a height of at least forty to 
fifty feet. The tail of the whale does not rise ver- 
tically like that of most fishes, but is flat and hori- 
zontal, only four or five feet long, but more than 
twenty feet broad. Its power is tremendous. A 
single stroke throws a large boat, with all its inmates, 
into the air. Sometimes the whale places himself 
in a perpendicular position, with the head downwards, 
and rearing his tail on high, beats the water with 
frightful violence. On these occasions, the sea 
foams and the spray darkens the air; the lashing is 
heard several miles off, like the roar of a distant 
storm. The tail is the motor of the whale and the 
fins merely direct and steady the movements. The 
razor-back whale (Balaena physalis) is a much 
larger animal. One of these animals, found dead 
in Davis Strait, measured 105 feet in length. An- 
other whale found in the arctic waters is the sperm- 
whale (Physeter microps), the most valuable of all 
whales. During the first half of the nineteenth 
century, different species of whale were very numer- 
ous along the west coast of Greenland, which, for 
fifty years, was the favorite hunting ground of the 
British and American whalers. The wholesale slaugh- 
ter carried on, year after year, by large whaling 
fleets, has decimated their number to a deploring 
extent, and has driven most of the survivors farther 
north to regions less accessible to the whalers. 


Tuesday, July 25th. The average temperature 
for the day was 44 F. At midnight, twilight and 
dawn met and banished the darkness of night. The 
sun, still in hiding, cast his beams of light east and 
west without showing any partiality to either di- 
rection. They blended their luminous sparks, in 
this desolate part of the world, in the form of a dim 
midnight twilight and beginning dawn. From now 
on, until the end of the short, arctic summer, moon 
and stars will be powerless in the presence of the 
midnight sun, and we can no longer say with Job: 

"The morning stars sing together, and all the 
sons of God shouted for joy." XXXVIII, 7. 

This may be unfortunate for us as star gazers 
when we reach our destination, as 

"Her clearer stars glow round the frozen 
pole." Pope. 

Since we left Sydney, the frequent fogs and cloudy 
sky have made it impossible for the captain to take 
an observation. We have sailed by the compass 
and are, as yet, far from land, and in water from 
a mile to a mile and a half in depth; hence, there is 
no danger of shipwreck on rocks. The captain, a 
very cautious man, is anxious to know exactly where 
we are, and has been asking himself, again and 

"Where are we? Ye immortal gods, where in 
the world are we?" Cicero. 

This burning question he answered to his satis- 
faction, when, at 9:15 A. M., the curtain of clouds 
was lifted from the sun and a sudden flash of intense 


light poured down on the cold, somber surface of 
the ocean. The noon observation showed that we 
were in Davis Strait, in latitude 63.1 N., longitude 
53 W. The sudden bursting forth of the sun 
changed the appearance of the ocean, the clouds, 
and the fog, from which we had just emerged. The 
face of the ocean, heretofore unfriendly, sullen, of 
a dull green color, now reflected, mirror-like, 
the delicate blue of the northern sky, the clouds 
changed their dull, leaden hue for a white, fleecy 
dress and the fog behind us became a delicate grayish 
white veil, suspended from an invisible support and 
touching the calm, rippling, blue surface of the 
ocean. The innumerable water-fowl, seagulls and 
guillemots in the air and on the water basked in 
the sunshine, and the mercury in the thermometer, 
in a few minutes, took a sudden leap from 44 F. 
to 49 F. The warmth and genial influence of the 
sun brought cheer on the deck, that had been so 
long in the shadow of gloomy clouds and chilled by 
weeping fogs. 

It was not long before we sighted another field 
of icebergs, resplendent in the sunshine, sailing in 
a group in the direction of the current. I counted 
eleven at one time. They had evidently been on 
the way for a long time, judging from the extent to 
which their size and form had been affected by the 
sun and waves. Some retained their balance, 
others were leaning toward the weather side, and 
some of them were turned clear over with the orig- 
inal base high in the air. During the afternoon, 
fleeting fogs in the bright sunshine, created pano- 


ramie views, great in their variety and exquisite in 
their beauty. The fogs were low, not exceeding 
the masts of the vessel in height, and traveled fast, 
coming and disappearing every few minutes, leaving 
spaces between them where the sun painted silvery 
pathways among the chasing fogs. When the fogs 
veiled the sun, they paled his face like that of the 
moon, and brushed away the warm breath of his 
rays. All objects in the fog, birds and icebergs, 
were greatly magnified in their size at the expense 
of a loss of their sharp outlines. Veiling and unveil- 
ing of these things were only a matter of a few min- 
utes, and during the intervals the sunshine was 
bright and cheering. Repeatedly the action of the 
rays of the sun on the disappearing, fugitive clouds 
painted the faint outlines of a rainbow, a fog rain- 
bow, which, however, always lacked vivid color- 
ation. The most conspicuous colors were pale 
drab and a light gray. This kind of a rainbow, in 
the sailor's language, is called a "fog-eater," and is 
looked upon with favor, for it means to the sailor 
that the fogs are low, thin, and fleeting. 

At eight o'clock in the evening, the fog became 
more dense and motionless. We saw Greenland 
sooner than we expected. Sailing at full speed 
through the dense fog, all at once the ship came to a 
sudden standstill, the propeller was reversed. The 
watch had espied land ahead of us. When I came on 
deck, we were within half a mile of two small, low 
islands. The vessel was turned seaward and proceeded 
at half speed. On consulting the chart, the captain 
ascertained that we were at the entrance of God- 


haab Fiord, and very near the coast. The fog was 
so dense that the islands were out of sight in a few 
minutes. We were very fortunate in safely escap- 
ing the first source of danger in coming so unex- 
pectedly, in such close proximity, to the treacherous 
coast of Greenland. 

The captain had orders to sail for Holstenborg, 
but we got the first glimpse of Greenland, or rather 
the islands guarding the Fiord of Godhaab, ninety 
miles south from Holstenborg. The strong current 
had carried the "Erik" out of the set course, the 
fog hid the coast, and before we had expected it, 
we had found what we were in search of the land 
of snow and ice. 


"The keen, clear air the splendid sight- 
We waken to a world of ice; 
Where all things are enshrined in light 
As by some Genii's quaint device." 


As I am writing this I am in full view of the 
bleak, stern, rugged coast of Greenland, half-way 
between Godhaab and Holstenborg. We are, in- 
deed, in a new world, but an old one by discovery. 
From the time we left Sydney, every day revealed 
to us new and convincing proofs that we were coming 
nearer and nearer to the limits of animal and vege- 
table life. My long and ardent desire to see the 
heart of the arctics is about to be realized. We are 
fast approaching that part of the arctic world where 
explorers of the most enlightened nations have made 
their headquarters for a final dash for the object of 
their search the pole. Greenland is nearer to 
the north pole than any other known land, and 
hence, for more than fifty years, it has been made 
the starting point for the race to the pole. This 
strange country of ice and snow was well known to 
the civilized nations long before America was dis- 
covered. History relates that this island-continent, 
or ice-covered archipelago, was first seen by the 
Norman rover, Gnunbjorn, and later by Erik the 
Red, who was banished in 982 A. D. for three years, 
from Iceland, for murder. After an aimless sea 



voyage, he found the east coast of Greenland and 
landing, probably in midsummer, found the moun- 
tainsides and valleys covered with grass, called it 
"Greenland" to distinguish it from the sterile hills 
and mountains of the island he was forced to leave. 
As the period of expatriation of this criminal was only 
three years, we have reason to believe that he gave 
this seductive name to the island he re-discovered 
for the purpose of inducing his countrymen to 
follow him to Greenland on his return to Iceland. 
It is natural to suppose that, for selfish reasons, he 
would encourage immigration to the land that had 
given him safety and shelter while he was under 
sentence for a capital crime. On his return to Ice- 
land, he succeeded in interesting his countrymen in 
his scheme to settle Greenland, and retraced his 
steps with twenty-five vessels, of which only fourteen 
reached their destination. 

The final fate of the second discoverer of Green- 
land is wrapped in obscurity. In 999 A. D., Leif, 
his son, visited the court of Norway, where, under 
the influence of the then reigning king, he was Chris- 
tianized and returned to Greenland with monks 
and established a number of colonies near Cape 
Farewell. These colonies prospered for a long time, 
but were extinguished by the hostile natives and 
"black death," an epidemic which raged in Europe 
from 1402 to 1404, and at last reached Greenland. 
The colonies became extinct about the beginning of 
the sixteenth century. Except the scanty ruins of 
a church, the only vestiges of these early settlements 
now remaining consist of low, naked walls, which 


must have served as pens for sheltering cattle, and 
an inscription, in the Runic language, on a stone 
slab, found in 1824, planted erect in the ground, 
on the island of Kingitorsoak, latitude 73 north, 
bearing the date April 25, 1135. The inscription 
has never been completely deciphered. Dr. T. 
Stewart Traill, of Liverpool, has interpreted this 
much of it: "Oelligr Sigwathson, and Baaos Tor- 
tarson and Oenrithi Osson, on the Saturday before 
Gagndag erected Thorward's monument, and wrote 
this." (And then what remained is unintelligible.) 
[Gagndag was a holiday of the Catholic church 
in Iceland.] 

More than 600 years after the settlement of 
Greenland by Icelanders, Baffin visited the island 
and found it bare and bleak, so called it "Land of 
Desolation." A century after Erik landed, a con- 
siderable population from Iceland had settled on the 
west coast. For several centuries, these people 
kept in touch with Europe, and it is said they also 
discovered America, which is very likely, as their 
pursuit of food-yielding sea-animals would, no 
doubt, extend their chase at least as far as the coast 
of Labrador. Later, owing to stirring events in 
Europe, this communication was intercepted and 
the colonies were practically forgotten, and all 
knowledge of them was lost after their ex- 
tinction by hostile natives and the fatal epidemic. 
The colonists, and the natives associated with them, 
had become nominally Christians, and maintained 
a republican form of government, but shortly before 
the catastrophes that blotted them out, they recog- 


nized the king of Norway as their sovereign. Then 
follows a blank in the history of Greenland, covering 
a space of 200 years, until Davis, Hudson and Baffin, 
the bold English navigators (1585-1616), visited the 
west coast and began their history-making explora- 
tions of the far North. Several expeditions sent by 
the king of Denmark (1585-1670) to find the colonies 
were fruitless. In 1576, Frobisher claims to have 
re-discovered a part of the long-forgotten Greenland. 
In 1587, Davis sailed along the west coast as far as 
latitude 73 north; in 1610, Hudson advanced 
to latitude 76 north; and in 1616, Baffin reached 
latitude 77^ north, without discovering any signs 
of a European settlement. In 1727, under Fred- 
erick IV, of Denmark, after the missionary, Hans 
Egede, had founded Godhaab in 1721, firm new 
foothold of Europeans was gained on the west coast. 
Hans Egede, an enthusiast in the interest of Green- 
land, succeeded in securing the sum of $10,000 by 
voluntary subscriptions, and landed, with his family 
and forty settlers, at Baal river, in latitude 64 north, 
July 3, 1721. He was afterward appointed mission- 
ary, by the home government, (Danish), with a small 
salary. The Danish government occasionally granted 
some aid to the colony. He labored with great zeal 
in civilizing and Christianizing the natives until 
1736. In 1757, the year before his death, he pub- 
lished his book, "Description of Greenland," in the 
Danish language. 

In 1733, Herrnhuter missionaries were sent to 
the west coast, and a number of settlements were 
established. Whalers from Europe and America 


aided the colonists. Since Greenland has been under 
Danish rule, the southern part has been divided 
into thirteen colonies, the most northern settle- 
ment being Upernavik. The colonies and settle- 
ments are presided over by two superintendents, 
one for the northern and one for the southern dis- 
trict. Each colony and each settlement has a gov- 
ernor and mechanics, who regulate the affairs of the 
natives and give them instruction. In 1805, Green- 
land had a population of 6,046; in 1874, 9,843; and 
in 1885, 9,892. The present number of inhabitants 
does not exceed 10,000, including the 230 to 250 
Danish officials and settlers. New Herrnhut, founded 
in 1733, is the largest and most prosperous colony. 
It is the intellectual center of Greenland. It has a 
seminary and a small printing plant for the dissem- 
ination of spiritual and educational literature, in 
the native language. Besides this, there are a number 
of small trading stations, which are visited about 
three times every summer by vessels, carrying the 
mail and bringing supplies in exchange for furs, 
eiderdown, and ivory, which the natives bring to 
these places from great distances. 

Greenland is the largest island in the world. It 
is an island-continent familiar only to explorers, 
whalers, and the few white people living there in 
the service of the Danish government. 

The many books written by explorers, who at- 
tempted to reach the pole by making Greenland 
the base of their expedition to the farthest north, 
have been read by millions of people; but no one 
can obtain a correct idea of this strange and mys- 


terious icebound and ice-covered land, from the 
best written and most accurate accounts. To know 
this, the most northern of all known lands, it must 
be seen. The complicated topography of the coun- 
try, the interesting native population, the mighty 
ice-cap, the countless glaciers, the floating moun- 
tains of ice, the resistless, moving fields of floe-ice, 
the gigantic sea-animals, the scanty but beautiful 
flora, the long summer day, and the equally long 
winter night, are things which must be seen to be 
understood and appreciated. The average layman 
is impressed with the idea that Greenland is an unin- 
habitable wilderness of ice and snow, and it is hard 
to make him believe that the arctic summer, with 
its midnight sun, even as far north as Etah, the 
very heart of the arctics, is delightful. 

It has a temperature usually ranging from 31 
to 55 F., with sea and air teeming with animal 
life, the valleys and hillsides clothed with verdure, 
wherever there is enough soil for seeds to germinate, 
and where beautiful tiny flowers meet the visitor's 
eye and impart a warmth to the arctic scenery, 
which must be seen to be felt. Greenland was 
formerly supposed to be a peninsula of the Ameri- 
can continent, or an archipelago, connected by a 
mass of ice. Its insularity was discovered by Com- 
mander Peary in 1892, who ascertained that a strait, 
believed to be Nordenskiold's Inlet, stretches from 
Lincoln Sea on the west to the Arctic Ocean on the 
northeast coast. From south to north, Greenland 
is about 1,400 miles in length, and its greatest width, 
from Cape Hatherton on the west coast to Cape 


Bismarck on the east coast, is 690 miles. The 
interior of the island is covered by eternal ice, which 
occupies about four-fifths of its entire surface. This 
monster ice-cap stretches out arms toward the 
sea, on both coasts, in the form of innumerable 

This ice-cap ascending in a gradual slope from 
both coasts until it reaches an elevation of at least 
8,000 feet, has been explored more thoroughly by 
Peary than by any one else. Twice he traveled 
from coast to coast, encountering terrific winds 
and blinding snow-storms, which more than once 
threatened the lives of the entire party. In 1902, 
he explored the northeastern part of Greenland, 
and described the coast that no human being had 
ever seen. Contrary to what had been claimed, 
he found in this remote part of the island, musk- 
oxen, polar hares, polar bear and signs of ptarmigan. 

This giant island lies between the Atlantic Ocean 
on the east, and Davis Strait, Baffin Bay, Smith 
Sound, and Kennedy Canal on the west, and extends 
from its most southern point, Cape Farewell, from 
latitude 59 48' to a little above 82 north, and 
comprises 500,000 square miles, of which 400,000 are 
occupied by the ice-cap, or, as the Danes call it, 
"ice-blink." The interior, from north to south, 
and nearer the east than the west coast, is a mesa of 
ice surrounded by mountains spreading over the 
whole island, except along a narrow coast fringe. 
The interior ice-cap is the last of those glacial con- 
ditions which for ages submerged northern Europe 
and northern America in its deluge of ice. Peary 


estimates that the ice-cap is 1,650 feet in thickness, 
so that the high plateau is in reality an immense 
glacier, which is moving westward. The more than 
100 large coast glaciers are merely prolongations of 
this interior ice, which reach the seashore between 
clefts in the coast range of mountains. The traveler 
who sails along the west coast of Greenland is seldom 
out of sight of the ice-cap glittering in the sunshine, 
and, in dark and cloudy weather, lighting up the 
clouds (ice-blink). Peary calls the interior ice an 
arctic desert, vastly greater than the African Sahara, 
and entirely devoid of animal and vegetable life. 
From the highest point of this ice-cap, fierce winds 
rake its surface in all directions, and in this way 
progressive increase in the height of the cap is 
prevented. The natives know the ice-cap under the 
name of Sermik soak, and will not venture upon 
it if they can avoid it. They could never under- 
stand why Commander Peary was so persistent in 
exploring it, and, at last, surmised that he was in 
search of another race in the farthest North. 

On the east coast, the island is cut by the Franz- 
Josef and Fligely's Fiords. The land, free of ice, is 
a narrow strip along the coast, five to twenty-five 
miles in width, made up of mountains and valleys 
and deep-branching fiords. Numerous deep fiords, 
some of them the beds of great glaciers, fed by the 
ice masses of the interior and a labyrinth of penin- 
sulas, bays and capes, characterize most of the 
coast. Cliffs and mountains from 1,500 to 7,000 
feet in height skirt the coast almost everywhere. 
The water from the melting ice and snow is drained 


into the ocean by brooks and rivulets, and some of 
these watercourses are large enough to merit the 
name of river. The large glaciers moving down the 
fiords, of which about 100 reach the sea, break off 
as ice-bergs at the edge of the sea. Numerous 
islands, the favorite breeding places of the arctic birds 
that migrate north during the summer, lie along the 
west coast, but are less numerous on the east coast. 
"The two distinctive features are the rugged and 
mountainous coast belt, extending from two to 
twenty miles inland, and the ice-cap, which covers 
all the rest of the island. Mt. Petermann, at the 
head of Franz- Josef Fiord, is the highest peak, 
reaching an altitude of 10,725 feet. The altitude of 
the west coast mountains, south of the Arctic Circle 
is about i, 600 to 2,000 feet, with a few black jagged 
summits, that rise 5,000 feet above the sea." (Peary.) 
Gneiss, granite, and other crystalline formations 
form the bulk of the base rocks, accessible for study. 
Sandstone, slate and basalt are also found on the 
west coast, the latter more especially on Disco 
Island, where waves, have sculptured it into fantastic 
and picturesque forms. The mineral resources of 
Greenland are meagre. Cryolite constitutes the 
principal article of export, yielding an income, in 
1874, of over $186,000. The revenue from these 
mines, located in the southern part of the island, 
near Ivigtut, the only ones in the world, has been 
gradually on the increase since. Traces of copper 
have been found at different points on the west 
coast. The mineral, endialyte, found near the 
south end of the island, is also a no inconsiderable 


revenue. At Godhaab, the smoke topaz, and gar- 
nets of an inferior quality, are also found. Coal of 
good quality is found on Disco Island, near God- 
havn, and, it is said, also along the coast of Lady 
Franklin Bay. In 1886, Peary found at Atane 
Kerdluk, near Disco, the famous fossil-beds and 
petrified wood. Between the layers of sandstone 
were the distinct outlines of leaves and ferns. The 
presence of coal, and the fossil flora and fauna, 
show types of vegetation and animal life akin to 
some now found within the tropics. The early 
explorers found volcanic craters, one of which 
emitted steam and smoke when it was discovered. 
The early history of this strange island is 
wrapped in mystery. How long a time has elapsed 
since its mountains were green and tree-clad, and 
inhabited by animals which, now, are only found 
in the temperate zones and tropic and sub -tropic 
climates, is only a matter of mere conjecture. The 
stern fact remains that, since then, it has become 
the coldest region in the world. 


No foreigner has had a longer and greater ex- 
perience in. studying the climate of Greenland than 
Commander Peary, and I will let him speak on this 

The climate and seasons within the arctic circle 
exhibit most peculiar and striking features, which 
modify, in a singular manner, the whole aspect of 
nature. The climate is very variable, and is greatly 
influenced by a branch of the Gulf Stream, the fierce 


winds from the ice-cap, and the amount of floating 
ice along the coasts, in the form of ice-floes and ice- 
bergs. Temperatures of 60 F. to 70 F., during 
the winter, have been recorded in northwest Green- 
land. The mean winter temperature at settlements 
in south Greenland has been observed as varying 
between 70 F.and 20 F. At Upernavik the mean 
temperature for three summer months is 38 F., and 
farther south, at Julianshaab, it is 48 F. More 
snow falls in the south than in the north. The 
branch of the Gulf Stream flowing north along the 
west coast is conducive to the habitability of that 
region. The climate is more severe on the east than 
the west coast. The mean temperature for eight 
months, at McCormick Bay ascertained by Mr. Ver- 
hoeff, the unfortunate member of the Peary expedi- 
tion, 1891-1892, was as follows: 

August 37.84 
September 23.28 
October 8.57 
November 0.16 
December 14.09 
January 20.53 
February 15.77 
March 22.12 

This table appears to agree with observations of 
the governor of Godhavn, who informed me that 
in that part of Greenland, and throughout the south- 
ern part of the island, March is the coldest and most 
disagreeable month. June, July, and August are 
the summer months and it is during this time that 
vegetable life thrives with an energy unknown in the 


temperate zones. A very few weeks, under the 
magic influence of the midnight sun, suffice for the 
grass to sprout and grow to a height of four to ten 
inches, and for the flowers to bud, blossom, and 
ripen their seed. The pack ice in Melville Bay, 
Smith Sound, and Kennedy Channel, during the 
summer months, is one of the most puzzling things 
to all seafaring men who enter those waters. Kane 
and other explorers have reported open water north 
of Smith Sound, and believed that they had dis- 
covered the open Polar Sea; while others have been 
imprisoned in ice all summer in Baffin Bay. The 
only drift-ice we encountered was off Cape Athol, on 
our upward trip; otherwise, the water was remark- 
ably free of ice on the entire voyage, with the excep- 
tion, of course, of the icebergs, which were almost 
our constant companions. 

The natives calculate time by their winters, the 
season of fast ice, which they call "Opipok." The 
snow blizzards, during the winter, are far more 
dangerous to natives and foreigners than the intense 
cold, as the native dress is ample protection against 
the latter, while the cyclonic and impalpable snow 
blizzards render outdoor life almost impossible 
without an effective mechanical protection. It is 
very strange, and yet it appears nevertheless 
true, that putrefaction of animal products takes 
place more rapidly during the Greenland winter 
than in the summer. Dr. Kane relates that a 
reindeer shot on the 226. of February, brought on 
board the "Advance" the next day, was almost 
uneatable the second day, the temperature being 


at that time 35 F. The Eskimos say that the 
extreme cold is rather a promoter than otherwise, 
of the putrefactive process. To prevent this they 
withdraw the viscera from the animals immedi- 
ately after they are killed and fill the cavity with 
stones. (Kane.) 


"Should I be placed alone in the barren wastes 
where no trees burst into bloom, and where 
no flowers cheer my eyes in the brief summer; 
icebound, mistclad and overcast with leaden 
clouds! Should I be banished to where the 
earth forbids man's abode, in lands too near 
the fiery car of the day-king, I still would find 
enough to study and admire the wonderful 
works of creation and to praise the goodness 
and mercy of the Almighty." 

We are now sailing along the west coast of this 
mysterious island of the north, in full sight of its 
island sentinels and rugged mountains checkered 
with ice and snow. 

I look in vain, for trees and shrubs, and at this 
distance the sprouting grass is obscured by the 
black and gray of the bald mountain sides. No 
wonder Baffin called this island "Land of Desola- 
tion." Seen from a distance, it always leaves this 

I have been in the hottest countries in the 
world during the hottest months of the year, and 
have experienced, in a full measure, the vicis- 
situdes and lassitudes incident to such a climate; 
and yet, I have never returned from these travels 
without a keen sense of delight and gratitude for 
what I had seen and learned. I learned what wise 
provision kind Nature has made for the abode of 
man and beast in such trying climates, and what 



she was capable of doing in the way of inducing the 
fertile soil, under the powerful influence of the tropic 
sun, to bring forth the most luxuriant vegetation, 
the most beautiful and fragrant flowers, and a rich 
harvest of the most luscious fruits, with little or 
no labor on the part of man. Man lives there at 
ease, depending largely on Nature's infinite resources 
in supplying him with the necessities of life, food, 
clothing, and shelter from the elements. I am 
now anxious to see and learn what nature has done 
for the people who live under reverse extremes of 
climatic conditions. I am satisfied that, even here, 
in the coldest of all inhabited parts of the world, 
Nature has provided wisely and well for the abode 
of man. To what extent my expectations were 
realized will appear by the results of my personal 
observations during my short but extremely instruc- 
tive sojourn along and on the west coast of this 
empire of ice. 

Wednesday, July 26th. After leaving the en- 
trance to Godhaab Fiord, so suddenly and uncere- 
moniously reached last evening, in the blinding fog, 
we sailed seaward sixteen miles, and then turned 
north and followed the coast at this distance, at half 
speed, owing to the persistence of the fog, until 
toward morning. At half -past seven o'clock this 
specter of the sea vanished sufficiently to warrant 
full speed; the coast was clear, and we looked for the 
first time upon the range of mountains which wall 
in the land of ice except where the leaders of the 
ice-cap have battered it down by floods of ice and 
mad torrents of water from the ice-cap and glaciers. 


The first view of these mountains suggests the 
severity of the climate of the island. Stern and 
forbidding is their appearance, treeless, naked, gray, 
and black, their crevices, hollows, and ravines filled 
with snow, they rise, wall-like, from the very edge 
of the ocean, guarding the barren land they inclose 
against the fury of the sea and the grinding action 
of icebergs and pack-ice. They have performed 
this duty well. There they stand, in an attitude 
of defiance, but little scarred by the aggressive 
ocean, a strong reminder of 

"The everlasting hills are not changed like 
the faces of men." Tacitus. 

There is nothing attractive or inviting about 
them on first sight, their very appearance stamps 
them as hostile and inhospitable. Cold and un- 
feeling, they stare you in the face without a single 
redeeming feature expressive of sympathy or a de- 
sire to have you come nearer. Looking in an oppo- 
site direction, over the placid surface of the ocean, 
a more inviting picture unrolled itself. The water 
was literally covered with arctic birds, among which 
the guillemots, gulls and kitti wakes were most 
numerous; all of them busy in securing their share 
of sea food. The air was alive with birds, single 
in pairs, and in flocks, of all sizes, coming 
from and returning to their breeding places on the 
countless little islands which fringe the coast. These 
birds flew, fearlessly, over and on all sides of the 
passing steamer, unconscious of any sense of danger. 
Most of them had, probably, never seen such a 


thing, and all seemed to know that the guns on 
board remained in their cases. About eleven o'clock 
the feeding time was over, and very few remained 
on the water, and nearly every one, seen flying, made 
a straight line for the rookeries on the shore. 

Many whales were seen during the day, and one 
of them, a monster, came along the side of the ship, 
within easy reach of a harpoon. Only a very few 
icebergs came in view during the entire day, and 
all of them were slowly conveyed by the current 
near the coast. Not a glimpse of the sun did we get, 
and, for a considerable part of the day, the coast was 
hidden behind a bank of dense, immobile fog. Dur- 
ing the afternoon we crossed the Arctic Circle at 
66i north latitude, and at that time the 
thermometer registered 42 F. We were reminded 
that we were now within the Arctic Circle which 
crosses Greenland a little south of Holstenborg. 
About seven o'clock, the fog disappeared and un- 
veiled a panorama of beautiful alpine scenery, in- 
cluding the first of the numerous Greenland glaciers 
to our fog-tired and yet expectant eyes. The mag- 
nificent scenery, so suddenly unveiled by the rising 
of the fog curtain, resembled, very much, the wilder- 
ness of Alpine peaks as seen from Rigi Kulm or the 
summit of the Pilatus. The countless, white-robed 
mountain spires, some of the highest ones draped in 
clouds, and all resplendent in the dazzling rays of 
the evening sun, made a panorama of exquisite 
beauty. These mountains vary in height from 
2,000 to 5,000 feet, the highest one being Sukker- 
toppen, a familiar landmark for the seamen who visit 



this coast. It was at the base of the Sukkertoppen 
that the famous arctic explorer, Doctor Kane, made 
his first collection of Greenland plants. Nature 
has her best artists in the arctic regions, as well as 
in the tropics, and I suppose that what we have seen 
so far of nature's arctic art only foreshadows her 
many chef d'ceuvre* which await us on our way 
farther north. 

Thursday, July ayth. Made good time during 
the night as we are in the coast current, and a good 
southern breeze aided the propeller in increasing 
the speed of the "Erik." At 7 A. M., we had bright 
sunshine which, however, did not last more than an 
hour, when heavy clouds again obscured the sky 
for the balance of the day. We were thirty miles 
out from the coast, and the low range of mountains, 
bare and free from snow, appeared in the distance, 
overcast by a blue haze. The gentle southeasterly 
breeze barely sufficed to ripple the smooth surface 
of the sea. Very few birds, no whales, and but a 
few seal were seen swimming about in the water, 
exhibiting their round heads and inquisitive eyes, 
only long enough, above the surface of the water, 
to satisfy their curiosity and to take in a fresh supply 
of air, when they disappeared, not to be seen again. 
Numerous small icebergs were encountered during 
the forenoon. These, however, were but the 
advance guard of a large group of immense bergs 
we met about noon in Disco Bay. I counted, from 
the deck of the steamer, sixty-seven at one time, 
not including the small ones. Our course led through 
the center of this group of floating mountains of 


ice. All of these icebergs had but recently left 
their birthplace at the head of the bay, and were 
moving slowly seaward. The elements had dealt 
gently with these youthful offsprings of some of the 
largest of Greenland's glaciers. Some of the largest 
must have been nearly a mile in length and from 
fifty to one hundred feet in height, as estimated by 
the captain. 

The sight was an imposing one, as the sun made 
his appearance long enough to bring out the marble 
white of the worn part and the delicate blue and 
green of the fractured sides and submerged portions 
of the bergs. The group, taken as a whole, spread 
over many miles of the smooth, dark green water 
of the ocean and gave the appearance of a city of 
tents. Far away in the sea was the largest one, in 
the form of an immense fort, minus the pointing 
guns. Near it was another flat colossus that, in 
the distance, looked like a large exposition building. 
There were also icebergs which, in their architecture, 
resembled cathedrals, mosques, houses, huts and 
sheds. These, as a whole, might be taken for a 
fairy city on the arid plains of a great desert, with 
wide boulevards and narrow lanes separating the 
different buildings. Doctor Sohon was kept busy 
with his kodak to fix these glorious sights indelibly 
on the films. 

"Emblems of purity and cold 

Messengers from the frozen lands, 
Cast in wond'rous forms without mold, 

Seeking peaceful rest on foreign strands." 

Disco Bay is a broad indentation of the west 


coast of Greenland, sixty miles in length at its base. 
The largest of the numerous islands in this bay is 
Disco, with Godhavn the seat of government of this 
district. We passed this well-known island near 
enough to obtain a good idea of its size, form and 
topography. The larger part of the island is made 
up of precipitous mesas, 1,200 to 1,500 feet above 
the level of the sea, cut on the seashore by deep 
ravines and magnificent fiords. These mesas or 
mountain plateaus are overtowered by numerous 
peaks, rising to an altitude of 3,000 to 4,000 feet, 
and much of the interior of the island is buried 
underneath an ice-cap. We passed the island late 
in the afternoon and during the evening, and our 
eyes feasted on the wild mountain scenery illumi- 
nated by the retiring sun. In the east, toward the 
mainland, the sky was painted a light salmon color, 
which, gradually and almost imperceptibly changed 
into the pale blue of the evening sky, bordering on 
the margin of the gray clouds which hovered over 
the island. In the west, the sun was high up in 
the firmament, trying his best to penetrate, with 
his arctic rays, the ragged sheet of clouds. An ice- 
berg of medium size, far out on the ocean, caught a 
glimpse of the sun and turned into a sapphire of 
prodigious size, set in the dark blue of the sleeping 

The usual variety of sea gulls sailed through the 
calm evening air, like white and gray kites, and 
flocks of eiderducks and guillemots floated lazily 
on the smooth surface of the water like gaily painted 
decoys. When within easy gunshot range, they 


dived, head foremost into the water with the speed 
of lightning, leaving a succession of expanding rings 
on the water, indicating the point of their disap- 
pearance, to reappear in a few minutes at a safe 
distance from the ship, which had disturbed their 
search for the evening meal. 

The island, from its appearance, seems to have 
risen in one sudden, great effort from the bottom of 
the ocean, as the perpendicular walls of basalt rock 
rise abruptly from the ocean to the snow-clad pla- 
teaus above. One of the larger glaciers was seen to 
project some distance over the surface of the sea, 
and is ready, at any time, to contribute a new iceberg 
to the army of bergs congregated along the west 
shore of the island. The ice-cap sends down toward 
the sea, a number of leaders in the form of 
glaciers, but few of them ever reach the abyss of 
the briny deep. Far out in the ocean could be 
seen a foaming jet of water thrown, perpendicularly 
into the air, a distance of at least fifty feet; then 
another geyser-like jet, some distance from the 
first. These jets, from the two different points, 
were repeated every few minutes and the whalers 
on board soon ascertained that these fountains 
were played by two sperm-whales, the largest of all 
the ocean animals, the water mastodons of the present 
age. One of these animals rose high enough to give 
us an opportunity to judge of the enormity of its 
size. The black back looked more like a small island 
than a part of this monster of the sea. This even- 
ing, at a latitude of little more than 70 north, 
which we are crossing, is our last chance to see a 


sunset until on the homeward trip we reach again 
this latitude. Unfortunately, the western horizon 
is heavily clouded and the setting sun at 11:15 P. 
M. is in hiding. In the east, where the sun will 
rise about two hours later, the sky is clearer and 
the few fleecy clouds are tinted a bright rosy hue, 
announcing the last sunrise for this time of the year. 
The space ahead of us, separating the last sunset and 
sunrise, seems to appear astonishingly small, and 
will be wiped out to-morrow by the midnight sun. 
The arctic summer has begun ; the temperature, at 
noon today, was 55 F., and at midnight, as I am 
writing this, it is 49 F., average humidity for the 
day, 77i P er cent. 

Friday, July 28th. Contrary to our expecta- 
tions, and to our great disappointment, the day 
opened gloomily with sky overcast and a drizzling 
rain. The coast of Omenak Peninsula, fringed 
with numerous islands, is barely visible through the 
misty air. The weather today reminds one of our 
drizzling March days. 

"It rains! It rains! It rains all day." 


As a matter of safety, the captain sailed farther 
seaward, and when out of sight of the coast con- 
tinued the journey at half-speed until one o'clock 
in the morning of next day. We are now in Baffin 
Bay, west of Upernavik, the northern limit of the 
Danish settlements, and well on the way to 
the heart of the arctics, followed by so many 
daring explorers in search of the pole. Davis, in 
1587, ascended, in the strait which deservedly bears 


his name to latitude 72 12' north, where he found 
the variations of the compass to be 82 west, or 
nearly the same as at the present time. In 1616, 
Baffin advanced, in the same waters, as high as 
78 north latitude. Hudson, nine years before, 
had penetrated in the Greenland seas to latitude 
82 north, to the northeast of Spitzbergen. In 
view of the advances made in the direction of the 
pole at such early periods, and by the use of small 
sailing vessels, it is somewhat mortifying to notice 
how little progress has been made in geographical 
discoveries since those early and intrepid adventurers 
explored the arctic regions with their frail barks, which 
seldom exceeded the size of fifty tons. Captain 
Wilson, about the end of June, 1754, having trav- 
ersed floating ice from latitude 74 north to 81 
north, found open water at 83 north, and, not 
meeting with many whales, returned. 

It was our captain's intention to set the course 
of his vessel for Cape York, but as he could not make 
out our exact position, we drifted lazily along at 
the rate of less than four miles an hour. It was a 
monotonous, dreary, and most disagreeable day. Even 
the sailors lost their customary cheerfulness and the 
captain's mind was visibly disturbed. It is bad 
enough to be lost on land, but it is vastly more so on 
the trackless ocean in rain and fog, near a dangerous 
coast, and among icebergs and possibly floating ice. 
The question, "Where are we?" became a burning 
one for the third time since we left Sydney. An 
overcast, weeping sky, mist and fog, a falling barom- 
eter, a chilly atmosphere, and wet deck, coupled 


with the uncertainty of our location, made up a 
combination of things not congenial to physical 
comfort, and certainly not conducive to a happy 
mental state. Forced idleness, under such de- 
pressing conditions, is painful, and the loss of a whole 
day, discouraging. Que faireJ I did the utmost in 
my power to make the best possible use of my time 
by reading and writing. I envy the people, who, 
under such circumstances, can while away the burden 
of time by reading novels or playing cards, some- 
thing out of the question with me. 

The first appearance of the midnight sun, to which 
we had looked forward with so many pleasant antici- 
pations, was a veritable lucus a non lucendo. The 
sun was there at the appointed time, but was hidden 
behind a bank of impenetrable clouds. It was as 
light as at noon, but we were sadly disappointed in 
not seeing the king of night and day face to face. 
It is in this latitude that the mariner's compass 
shows pronounced symptoms of nervousness. The 
mass of people have an idea that the compass in- 
variably points true north. This is the case at the 
equator, but north from that imaginary line it de- 
viates toward the west, and about where we are 
now, on a level with Upernavik, about latitude 75 
north, it points directly west, instead of north, and 
the mariner must sail east by the compass if he in- 
tends to go north. At this latitude, the compass, 
is restless, vacillating, and, when it comes to a stand- 
still, points toward the magnetic pole, which Captain 
Ross, in 1830, located in the northern part of British 
America at latitude 70 5' north and longitude west 


96 46' 45", being only a minute less than 90, 
the vertical position, which would have precisely 
indicated the polar station. The longitudinal 
needles, when suspended in the most delicate manner 
possible, did not show the slightest tendency to move. 
He looked carefully for something that would ac- 
count for the magnetic attraction, but found nothing. 
The uncertainty of the compass in this latitude and 
farther north, and the frequent fogs, render navi- 
gation in these regions more difficult and dangerous 
than anywhere else. 

Saturday, July 29th. Day promises well. Ship 
under full sail; frequent glimpses of the sun; sky 
clearing; mist dispelled; sea calm; icebergs few; 
birds more numerous; land still out of sight; entering 
Melville Bay. It is in Melville Bay that the sailors 
expect to battle with floating ice during this season 
of the year. Delays by pack -ice here are of common 
occurrence and are often of days and even weeks 
duration. Bright sunshine at short intervals cheered 
the afternoon and imparted a more pleasing aspect 
to the marine scenery, the choppy sea, flee ting clouds, 
and numerous flocks of birds. The indications were 
that we would see the midnight sun. In this we 
were again disappointed, as toward evening the sky 
became overcast and at midnight it was as light as 
any time during the day, but the sun remained in 
hiding. Toward morning a drizzling rain and a 
dense fog made navigation again difficult. 

Sunday, at eight o'clock in the morning, we 
passed through a field of pack-ice. The strong, 
steel-clad prow of the steamer shoved the closely 


packed pans aside and, where this could not be 
done, piled them up in heaps on the side of the ship. 
The shocks imparted to the vessel by the striking 
of the large masses of ice, and the grinding noise, 
gave us at least an idea of what it means to sail 
through pack-ice. Passing clouds of dense fog 
obscured the outlook beyond the distance of a quar- 
ter of a mile. 

Colossal icebergs surrounded us on all sides. 
We counted seventy at one time. Our exact location 
was in doubt, but from the character of the fog, and 
the direction and arrangement of the field of pack- 
ice, there was no question of the proximity of land. 
Several of the pans of ice showed signs that they 
had recently been occupied by walrus. The serious 
question again arose, "Where are we?" At nine 
o'clock, fogs and clouds disappeared sufficiently for 
a few minutes only to enable the officer on the bridge 
to see land ahead. Great caution was necessary 
now. At half speed, the "Erik" groped its way in 
the direction of the coast, in a thick fog, among ice- 
bergs, and through fields of pack-ice. The coast, 
when it came into full view, was mountainous and, 
through the foggy, hazy atmosphere, we counted 
no less than six glaciers, one of them at least two 
miles in width, with a wall-like shining face, showing 
where an immense iceberg had recently broken off. 
Our aim was Cape York, but the land we saw could 
not be identified as such. A rough sea, with rain 
and fog, made it unsafe to approach and follow the 
coast line, as is usually done by expert mariners in 
this region. The engine was stopped and the ship 


allowed to drift among the icebergs. Steam was 
turned on from time to time to avoid collision with 
icebergs and to keep at a safe distance from the 
shore. Our situation, unpleasant and discouraging 
as it was, was made more so in the evening when a 
severe gale lashed the ocean into foam-crested, 
angry waves. The little ship groaned, tossed, rolled, 
and pitched at a fearful rate. Movable things were 
thrown about in confusion, and the noises created 
thereby contributed much to the existing confusion 
on deck and in my cabin. 

The deck was swept by the furious waves, and 
it soon became necessary, in order to keep contro' 
of the ship, to sail at half speed up and down the 
coast, and at a safe distance from it, until the weather 
would permit it to come sufficiently near to identify 
the most important landmarks. It was a dreadful 
night. No, it was not night, as the midnight sun 
had turned night into day. Although the sun was 
not shining, it was as light at midnight as any time 
during the day. This was our greatest consolation, 
as, had it been dark, the danger would have been 
vastly increased. No one slept much that night. 
Sailing up and down a strange coast, in such a bois- 
terous sea, amidst numerous icebergs, and occa- 
sionally through fields of pack-ice, is a trying ex- 
perience. I love an active ocean and a little ship 
that responds gracefully to the waves, but when the 
rolling and pitching, and the cork-screw gait of the 
ship become so severe that walking, and even stand- 
ing, without a firm support, are made unsafe or 
impossible, the limits of the poetry of sea motions 


have passed. This was the case that night. The 
temperature next morning had fallen to 42 F. At 
half -past eight, the sun appeared, but only for a 
very short time. Gale, clouds, and fog continued 
persistently, and we were obliged to keep out at 
sea. Sailing at a lame gait north, then south, back- 
ward and forward between icebergs, enveloped in 
fog, and" under an overcast, leaden sky, we are: 

"In thrilling regions of thick-ribbed ice; 
To be imprison 'd in the viewless winds, 
And blown with restless violence round about 
The pendent world." Shakespeare. 

We now could appreciate well what the Psalmist 
said : 

"The sun shall not smite thee by day, nor 
the moon by night." Psalms CXXI, 6- 

As we have had only a few short glimpses of the 
sun since we left Sydney, two weeks ago, we miss 
very much, the gentle moon and starlight, banished 
now by the conquering midnight sun. Fog, mist, 
rain, and a cloudy sky have been meted out to us 
on this trip far above the average amount. Some 
of our sailors who have frequented the west coast 
of Greenland for the last twenty years say they 
never met such disagreeable weather before during 
this season of the year. Occasional fogs are ex- 
pected, but almost continual fogs for nearly two 
weeks, and so little sunshine, is an almost unheard-of 
experience. At noon, the fog and clouds cleared 
away and the officers recognized a conspicuous 
landmark of the coast, Conical Island, off Cape 
Atholl, and later Wolstenholm Island, Dalyrymple 


Rock, Eider Duck Island, and lastly Saunders Island; 
all of them at the entrance of Wolstenholm Sound. 
Instead of being at Cape York, we were agreeably 
surprised that we were thirty miles north of that 
point, and at the very gateway to our first destina- 
tion, North Star Bay. Cape Atholl appeared in all 
its arctic majesty, and the nearby Petowik 
Glacier, one of the largest on the west coast of Green- 
land, was in full view, besides a number of smaller 
ones. It was a source of great comfort to us all, 
and especially to our captain, to know that we were 
on familiar grounds and in face of reliable guides to 
North Star Bay. The course of the ship, lying 
between the main land and Saunders Island, after 
rounding Cape Atholl, was directed toward North Star 
Bay. From now on, until we reached North Star 
Bay, we were constantly in view of the great inland 
ice and numerous glaciers, large and small. These 
and the snow-clad mountain peaks announced to 
us that we were nearing the very heart of the arctics. 
Petowik Glacier is an enormous river of ice, and 
a liberal contributor to the iceberg family. The 
mountain on one side of the fiord, occupied by this 
glacier, is worn away by the friction of this enor- 
mous mass of moving ice, and, by this gradual action, 
has been changed into a steep, almost perpendicular 
wall, while on the opposite side of the fiord there 
are no indications of this grinding action. The 
face of the glacier, projecting far over the surface of 
the water, we estimated at five miles in width, 
and it presents all the appearances of recent frac- 
tured surfaces at different points, caused by the 


breaking off of icebergs. There was now a sudden 
change in the weather. The bright, warm, beautiful 
sunshine, the clear atmosphere, the smiling light blue, 
friendly arctic sky, and the frequent rainbows, in 
the clouds we left behind us, made up a most fas- 
cinating scenery as we entered the calm waters of 
Wolstenholm Sound. This broad sheet of water 
teemed with bird-life. The water was literally 
covered with the little auks, eider ducks, and several 
species of gulls, and the air was alive with these arctic 
birds, hurrying to and from the near-by island rook- 

We reached the entrance to North Star Bay 
without any difficulty, and, at eight o'clock in the 
evening, the "Erik" was securely at anchor near 
where the ill-fated "North Star" had spent her 
last winter quarters. As there was formerly a 
settlement of natives near Cape Atholl, the captain 
tried to attract their attention by a few fierce 
blasts of the whistle, but no signs of life could 
be seen on shore. On entering North Star Bay, the 
same signal was given to inform the natives at North 
Omenak, another settlement near the place of our 
anchorage, of our presence. At about eleven 
o'clock in the evening, a number of natives could be 
seen on the summit of a bluff, near their settlement. 
The sun was shining brightly and, seen through 
glasses, the native figures, about two miles distant, 
appeared like so many silhouettes. Men, women, 
and children were grouped together, some walking, 
some standing, and others sitting on the large boul- 
ders scattered over the surface of the ground. A boat 


was lowered and sent ashore. It soon returned with 
a full cargo of natives, principally women and chil- 
dren, accompanied by five kayaks, which brought 
the able-bodied hunters of the settlement. 

It was a motley crowd as they climbed up the 
ladder and landed on deck. I distributed candy to 
old and young, and all seemed to enjoy this dainty 
article of civilization which, perhaps, most of them 
had never tasted before. With the exception of a 
sick man, and one to take care of him, the entire 
settlement, about twenty in number, spent the 
night on deck, alternately eating and sleeping. 
Pork was their favorite dish. This settlement evi- 
dently had to contend with a severe winter, or the 
game must have been scarce, as the clothing of all 
the members of the tribe was old and well worn and, 
as a later visit to their tents showed, their fur and 
food supplies were scanty. Five of the women had 
infants which they carried in their hoods. It was 
my first opportunity to see real Eskimos. I improved 
this and all subsequent opportunities to study the 
character and habits of these interesting inhabitants 
of the polar regions, so far but little influenced by 


The west coast of Greenland, from Cape York 
to Etah, has been called by Peary "The Arctic Oasis." 
I was given an excellent opportunity to see and 
study this part of the Greenland coast, and can only 
agree with the fearless explorer, who is more familiar 
with it than any other foreigner, that it merits this 


euphonious term, notwithstanding its high latitude, 
extending, as it does, from latitude 76 to 78 40' 
north, covering a distance of about 140 miles by a 
straight coast line. It is on the narrow strip of land 
in these latitudes, between the sea and the ice-cap, 
that the only real Eskimos reside. It is here where 
the real heart of the arctics is located; it is here 
where, during the short summer, the sea, air, and coast 
teem with animal life; and, finally, it is here where 
the midnight sun, by its magic influence, awakens 
from the scanty soil a vegetation that astonishes 
the visitors who come to this part of Greenland with 
the expectation of finding nothing but barren moun- 
tains, ice, and snow. It is here where, during the 
short summer, the climate is delightful and invig- 
orating, more especially along the inland coasts of 
Wolstenholm Sound and Inglefield Gulf, inland 
arms of the sea, where the atmosphere is dry, 
fogs rare, and warm sunshine continuous. Truly 
this part of Greenland, bounded on one side by the 
everlasting ice and on the other by Baffin Bay and 
Smith Sound, well deserves the name applied to it 
by Peary, "Oasis of the Arctic Region." In this 
paradise of the arctic region, it was my good fortune 
to spend a month, most of the time in company with 
the distinguished explorer. 

5 o 

r ^ 

O I 

2. ^ 



At twelve o'clock midnight, on the day of our 
arrival, the midnight sun shone brightly from its 
lofty position in the cloudless, starless sky, reflecting 
his warm, friendly rays on the silvery bosom of this 
arctic harbor and the unfeeling ocean of the inland 
ice. Auks, guillemots, eider-duck, and gulls, which 
have here one of their favorite feeding grounds, 
paid little attention to our "Erik*' or to the activity 
displayed by natives and crew on her deck, a part 
of which was still buried under the cargo of coal. 
These natives had not seen a vessel for three years; 
hence our visit to them was a very welcome one. 

The novelty of the surroundings, the quaint, 
interesting natives on deck, and the splendor of the 
midnight sun were well calculated to chase away 
sleep the balance of that memorable day-night. 

The next morning inaugurated a charming arctic 
summer day. The warm sunshine, gentle breeze, 
and blue, cloudless sky reminded me of one of our 
clear, cool days in the month of June. The water 
in the bay was as smooth as a mirror. The harbor 
is hemmed in by an embankment from six to ten 
feet in height, the face of a low plateau or wide 
valley, the bed of a great glacier ages and ages ago. 
The glacier has left numerous footprints, which 
centuries have failed to efface, in the form of boulders, 
gravel, and moraine; the latter has furnished enough 



soil for the arctic vegetation, grass in abundance, 
and quite a variety of flowers. 

This wide valley is coursed by two streams which 
drain the ice-cap and a number of small glaciers. 
One of these streams is large enough to entitle it 
to the name of river. Owing to the gradual, steady 
incline of this river from the coast to the ice-cap, 
a distance of about twenty miles, the current is very 
swift, and is broken at short intervals by roaring, 
foaming rapids. On each side of the valley rise 
mountains from 1,000 to 2,000 feet high, surmounted 
by a rock-strewn plateau. From these plateaus, 
the valley beneath, with its turbulent streams and 
numerous little fresh- water lakes, presents a mag- 
nificent sight. Much of its surface, especially on 
the west side, is covered by tundra with moss, grass, 
and an abundance of flowers. The great ice-cap, 
with its numerous nunataks along its edge, rising 
like black monuments above the surface of the sea 
of ice, although twenty miles away, yet appearing 
in the deceptive, clear atmosphere as though it could 
be reached in an hour's easy walk, can be seen stretch- 
ing inland by a gradual incline for eighty to one 
hundred miles. 

One of the first things I discovered in looking at 
the plateau coast from the deck of the steamer, was 
a large pile of stones on the high bank near the 
mouth of the river. It was evidently either an 
abandoned igloo or a sailor's grave. I visited the 
place and found it to be the grave of a white man, 
probably a sailor of the ill-fated "North Star" which 
was crushed by the ice. A high mound of stones 



on the solid granite rock indicates the burial-place. 
Neither man nor animals have desecrated this soli- 
tary grave. What deprivation and suffering the 
poor man under those cold, unfeeling stones would 
relate could he but speak! Here he rests, far away 
from home and relatives, less than 700 miles from 
the pole he, and those with him, sought to reach. 
The icy wind in the sunless winter, and the moaning 
waves in summer continue to chant the funeral 


His work is done; he rests 
Free from hunger, care, and pain, 

Near yonder lofty crests, 

Without honor, without fame; 

On the bleak arctic shore 
He sleeps forevermore. 

Far from home, on bed of stone, 

Safe from reefs, storm, and gale 
He dwelleth all alone, 

Wrapp'd in his garb of sail ; 
On the bleak arctic shore 

He sleeps forevermore. 

His courage and his deeds, 

His many hopes, his fears, 
His sufferings and needs 

Are forgotten, cause no tears 
On the bleak arctic shore 

He sleeps forevermore. 

All honor to this grave 

Of stone on granite floor, 
Where lies a hero brave, 

Forgotten, without lore; 
On the bleak arctic shore 

He sleeps to wake no more. 


The most conspicuous landmark of this harbor 
is a high rock jutting out from the main land and 
resembling in outline, very much the old pictures 
representing Noah's ark. It is behind this rock, and 
the narrow, stony ridge connecting it with the main- 
land, that the settlement of the natives, North 
Omenak, is located. I visited this little hamlet of 
tents the day after our arrival. It is made up of 
five sealskin tents and inhabited by twenty-five 
persons, including the unusually large number of 
infants. We were greeted at a distance by the 
howling of about thirty Eskimo dogs, vicious-look- 
ing brutes, fortunately for us, safely anchored to 
large stones with stout walrus-hide ropes. They did 
their best to release themselves from their fixed 
position and meet us more than half-way. The 
Eskimo dog has no liking for foreigners, and makes 
no secret of his antipathy to Kablunahs (white men) . 
These native dogs are nothing more nor less than 
half -tamed arctic wolves. They are about the size 
of our timber-wolves and resemble them very closely 
in the appearance of their fur, eyes, tail, ears and 
nose. About the only difference in the shape of 
their skull is a slight increase in the width of the 
frontal bone. The predominating color is gray, but 
white, black and yellow are frequently seen. Most 
of them are spotted. Peary is of the opinion that 
the present breed of dogs shows decided evidences 
of a mixture of races, brought about by the New- 
foundland dogs carried to this part of Greenland by 
Doctor Kane more than fifty years ago. They are 
miserable-looking brutes, retaining, in a large meas- 


ure, the savage nature and habits of their ancestors. 
Howling, barking, and fighting are their pastimes. 
Fighting among themselves is their specialty. The 
short time we remained in the settlement, several 
vicious fights were going on, without any provoca- 
tion, between the dogs picketed close enough together 
to enable them to reach each other. All of the 
foreigners who have visited these regions were 
impressed with the cruelty with which the natives 
treat these animals; but as soon as they became 
more familiar with the savage nature of these only 
half -domesticated wolves, they could understand 
the reason for their apparent brutality. 

The long whip, which the Eskimos know how to 
use so effectively, is the only peacemaker when a 
fight takes place, and is the only thing for which 
they show any respect and the only inducement to 
make them work. Doctor Kane has this to 
say of the Eskimo dog- whip: "The weapon has an 
exercise of its own, quite peculiar, and as hard to 
learn as single-stick or broadsword. The whip is 
six yards long, and the handle but sixteen inches." 
Two packs were picketed close to a little fresh-water 
pond, and, about half the time, the dogs ran about 
in the shallow water. This pond, in which were 
also four dog sledges, furnishes the water supply for 
the community, one of the many indications that 
the Eskimo has no use for cleanliness. Bathing and 
washing of face and hands are never practised. 
When the white man gives him soap, he may eat it, but 
he cannot be made to use it for what it is intended. 

The Eskimo is the filthiest of all human beings 


that I have ever seen. He is vastly more filthy than 
the filthiest of our domestic animals. Nearly every 
animal pays some attention to cleanliness; many 
of them, like the squirrel, birds and insects, are even 
dainty; but here is a creature absolutely devoid of 
the sense of cleanliness. With their hands they may 
rub off the coarse dirt which has accumulated on 
face and hands, but they will not wash. The greasy, 
dirty neck, frictioned by the hood, is the cleanest 
part of their filthy body. In every tent is a small 
stick of wood or bone, about two feet in length, to 
one end of which a bunch of hair, from the polar 
bear, is attached; and with this rudimentary brush, 
the vermin which has collected between skin and 
clothing is fished out. The reader may experience 
an unpleasant sensation in the region of the stomach, 
when I tell him that the vermin thus caught is eaten 
as a delicacy, uncooked, and squirming, as I have 
myself seen done and as related to me by many other 
eye witnesses. 

The smell about every Eskimo is, to the unin- 
itiated, extremely disagreeable and repulsive. When 
the natives boarded the steamer the first evening, 
this smell nearly sickened me, and, as I have become 
habituated to many bad smells during my profes- 
sional career, this means a good deal. But to get 
a correct idea of the filth and squalor these people 
live in, you must go inside one of their tents or 
igloos. You can scent an Eskimo at a distance, 
if the wind is in the right direction; but when 
you enter a tent the nerves of smell are shocked, 
even after a preliminary inspection of its surround- 


ings. In the immediate neighborhood of the tent 
are the repulsive dogs, human and animal excre- 
ments, putrified entrails of animals, skins in process 
of curing by chewing and drying, bones, represent- 
ing the entire anatomy of different arctic animals, 
and ropes of fresh walrus hides stretched between 
stones to which they are securely fastened, under- 
going a slow process of drying, preparatory to their 
being made pliable by chewing a task always 
assigned to the female part of the family. Lying 
scattered around are walrus tusks, narwhal horns, 
dirty dishes made of soapstone, harpoons, spears, 
primitive tools all dirty and plastered with grease. 
The smell, even here, is bad enough; but now let us 
enter the tent. You have to bow low to enter 
through a slit in the small, conical tent of seal- 
skin, in itself not an attractive sight, and where no 
provisions whatever are made for ventilation. Air 
is excluded by fastening the tent all around with 
stones which effectually prevent the air from entering 
below, and there is no opening for it to escape on 
top. As these tents do not exceed eight or ten 
feet in diameter, and are usually occupied by at 
least five persons, it requires no stretch of imagina- 
tion to judge of the character of their inside air. 
The stench is simply indescribable. Five minutes 
was enough for me. But let us look around and 
see. The tent is made of sealskins, deprived of 
their hair by scraping. The common family bed 
is in the rear of the very limited space, occupying, 
as it does, at least one third of its interior. It is 
made up of ill-smelling bear, seal, and reindeer skins 


on the bare ground, and fitted up in a most disor- 
derly manner. The first half of the space is the 
kitchen, sitting, and dining room. The lamp and 
stove, made of soapstone, is half full of dirty seal- 
oil. In one corner is a filthy tin vessel containing 
well-ripened blubber, a dish from which our dogs 
would run away and hold their breath, but which 
is relished by the inmates and is eaten raw like we 
eat oysters, but without salt or any kind of condi- 
ment. In a very dirty tin dish is a piece of black 
seal meat fried crisp. Near the door are the putrid 
entrails of a seal on the bare ground and pieces of 
liver, both of which are regarded as delicacies and 
eaten raw. In whatever direction the eye was 
turned, there was dirt, dirt, everywhere. 

I was very anxious to learn how the natives 
light fire when they have no matches. An expert 
in this business was summoned. He produced a 
piece of brown, dried moss about the size of an ordi- 
nary cake of toilet-soap, tore a small rent in it, and 
filled it with a small pledget of white, silky down, 
the plumes of a species of grass, the poa arctica, and 
then took a piece of hard black stone and struck it 
repeatedly with the back of a knife, which made 
the sparks fly until one of them ignited the white 
pledget, from which the moss caught fire and the 
object lesson was finished to the great satisfaction 
of the visitors and the delight of the group of na- 
tives who witnessed the performance with more than 
ordinary interest, a proof to us that fire-making, 
without matches, is not a very easy matter and 
requires the skill of an experienced hand. The 


wick for the oil-lamp is made of moss, and the heat 
from this source suffices to heat the winter quarters 
sufficiently for the comfort of the inmates. 

In one of the tents I found the only sick man I 
saw among the Eskimos. He was about thirty 
years old and was lying on his back, leaning toward 
the left side, on a reindeer skin, perfectly helpless; 
his left elbow- joint swollen and exceedingly painful 
and tender to the slightest touch, resting on a stone 
covered with fur. His lower extremities were con- 
tracted, wasted, and all of the joints stiff. He was 
emaciated to a skeleton, with a hectic flush in his 
face. With a cold pipe in his mouth, his eyes were 
fixed and gazing at the top of the tent. His mind 
appeared to be wandering. It was evidently a 
case of chronic rheumatic arthritis and Commander 
Peary informed me later that he had been in this 
condition for twelve years. Although helpless and 
the father of a family, he is well taken care of by his 
little tribe. Near the hamlet of tents I discovered 
three Eskimo graves in the form of low mounds of 
stone, and in length exceeding that of an adult. 
The Eskimo, unlike the North American Indian, 
fears death, and the very mention of this word 
(Sinipo) he avoids as much as possible. Nearly all 
over Greenland, the soil is too shallow for the exca- 
vation of a grave, the above-ground burial is, there- 
fore the one practised. Doctor Kane describes it 
as follows: "They place the body in a position of 
repose, the knees drawn close to the body, and en- 
close it in a sack of skins. The implements of 
the living man are then grouped around him; they 


are covered with a rude dome of stones, and a cairn 
is piled above. The grave is never disturbed." 
The graves I saw here and elsewhere were so low 
that the bodies must have been placed in a lying 
position. The funeral pile was so low that in one 
of the graves I found nearly all of the bones exposed, 
which gave me an opportunity to secure a real Es- 
kimo skull, which I brought with me among other 
equally interesting souvenirs to Chicago. The un- 
covering of the remains was undoubtedly done by 
wild animals, or the nearly wild dogs, by rolling 
away the two or three layers of stones. This was 
evidently a recent grave, as I found a number of 
bones to which the flesh remained attached. 

From the deck of the "Erik," the land in sight 
appeared bare of all kinds of vegetation and was 
made up, as far as we could see, of rock strewn with 
boulders. On landing for the first time on the un- 
inviting, forbidding soil of Greenland, I was agree- 
ably surprised to find quite a rich and varied vege- 
tation. Between the stones scattered over the 
surface of the granite-rock, a little soil had accumu- 
lated, and from it had sprouted little tufts of grass 
and quite a variety of flowers. One of the first 
flowers that greeted me was the poppy of the arctics 
(papaver nudicaulis) , a modest little yellow flower with 
bare stalk and palmately incised, basal, velvety 
leaves. The stalk is from four to six inches in length, 
and the yellow variety, to the casual observer, 
appears, on superficial examination, very much like 
our butter-cup. 

The first day I spent on land, crossing valleys, 


climbing mountains, and walking over the tundra, 
I found, to my utter astonishment, at least fifteen 
different kinds of flowers, yellow, white, red, purple, 
labiates and composites, all small and absolutely 
devoid of anything like fragrance. The marshy 
soil (tundra) in valleys and on mountain plateaus 
was green with grass and mosses, and it was in 
these places I found a small species of mushroom 
and the sorrel, the latter in the stage of budding. 
I searched long and carefully for the dwarfed birch, 
which is the only tree which follows the willow to 
the northern part of Greenland, but failed to find 
it. The willow is here a dwarf, from one to six 
inches in height, and was at the time of my visit 
in full blossom, bearing, according to its size, from 
one to six catkins. When this hardy shrub exceeds 
two or three inches in height, it becomes a creeper, 
seeking protection against the intense cold of the 
arctic winter under a mantle of mosses. This region 
is very rich in different species and varieties of 
mosses and lichens, a very paradise for these low 
forms of vegetable life. The chromogenic lichens 
paint rocks, boulders, and pebbles in bright colors. 
Some of the stones on their exposed surface appear 
as though they had been sprinkled with blood ; others 
were checkered with spots of orange yellow; and 
some showed blotches as black as the blackest of 
printers' ink. The hardy little flowering plants have 
here only a very short time in which to blossom 
and propagate their species. It is remarkable 
what resourceful Nature can accomplish under the 
most uncongenial climatic influences in the way of 


preservation of vegetable life. The tiny flowers, 
some of them barely above the soil and not larger 
than the head of a pin, grouped in bunches red and 
white, peep brightly through the wilderness of the 
protecting moss; but 

'To me the meanest that blows can give 
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears." 


Among the more familiar flowers I found the 
dandelion, two kinds of watercress, and saxifrages. 
Except the moss and grass-covered tundra, with its 
large isolated boulders, the valleys and mountain 
plateaus are covered with boulders, stones of all 
shapes and sizes, flat, irregular, and round, and 
tablets of slate. The time-worn, aged faces of the 
granite and sandstone rocks fissured in a straight 
direction, perpendicularly and horizontally, have 
been blasted by winter frosts and summer thaws, 
and it is by this slow process that the enormous 
boulders are split off from the mother rock and are 
carried away from it by their own momentum, or 
by the agency of glaciers and the spring torrents, 
to their final resting-place. 

It was the intention of Commander Peary that 
the "Erik" should reach North Star Bay a few days 
before the "Roosevelt," to give me an opportunity 
to hunt reindeer and ptarmigan, as it was known 
that this part of Greenland was a good reindeer 
country in the past. Grass and fresh water are 
plentiful here, and the whole lay of the country is 
an ideal one for these two kinds of game. 

It was not known that at this time we should 


find a native settlement here, and in that event 
there could be no doubt as to the prospects of 
a good hunt. The presence of so many natives and 
their numerous dogs threw at once a shadow over 
the outlook as far as hunting game on land was con- 
cerned. On the first day's inland trip, which covered 
at least ten miles across valleys and up and down 
mountains at least 1,500 feet in height, we failed to 
find any recent signs of reindeer, and the absence 
of any kind of bird food explained, satisfactorily, 
why the ptarmigan had left this part of the island. 
Of land birds, I only saw a few snow-buntings and 
two ravens. Two arctic hares were seen at a great 
distance by means of glasses, but the absence of 
anything like a cover made it impossible to get within 
gunshot range. 

From one of the mountain plateaus, we obtained 
a magnificent view of the great inland ice-cap rising 
in a gradual slope in an easterly direction. Coated 
every year by new precipitations, which at once 
congeal and form a part of this gigantic mass of ice, 
replacing the losses inflicted by fierce winds and 
thaw, this ice-cap, with its pure, crystal ice and 
virgin snow, is the very ideal of purity. Look at 
this smooth ocean of ice, dazzling in the bright sun- 
shine under the blue, arctic sky, and the pure white 
snow in the ravines on the mountainsides and cloth- 
ing the highest peaks, and it will become apparent 
to us why poets for ages have selected these two 
products of cold as emblems of purity and chastity. 

"Be then as chaste as ice, as pure as snow; 
then thou shalt not escape calumny. Get thee 
to a nunnery, go." Shakespeare, 


"White as chaste, and pure 
As wind-fanned snow." 

Beaumont and Fletcher. 

Even this thick crust of ice is not deep enough 
to hide the highest mountain peaks along its border 
which project from the glassy surface in the form 
of black, conical islands, called by the natives nuna- 

Through glasses, we could detect great crevasses 
which extend for a long distance inland from the 
border of the ice. It is these crevasses that render 
the first part of the journey over the ice tedious and 
dangerous. Of insects, I saw a few very small 
mosquitoes and two or three greenish flies when we 
rested on the sunny and leeward side of a high rock 
during the early part of the afternoon. 


I have seen the midnight sun from North Cape, 
Norway, and was deeply impressed with the beauty 
and solemnity of the midnight hour; but even the 
sun must have worthy objects upon which to shine 
in order to paint pictures that will charm the eye 
and agitate the soul. To see the midnight sun in 
all his glory, we must see him here where the liquid 
and solid oceans combine to form a double mirror 
worthy to reflect his bewitching rays during the 
solemn midnight hour. 

I have seen the midnight sun two successive 
nights before landing from the deck of the vessel. 
The rim of the golden disc touched the summit 
of the promontory, "Noah's Ark," which stands 
directly in line from the point of observation to the 
royal visitor of night. Below the disc of gold were 
the dark outlines of the stupendous rock and its 
shadow thrown on the smooth surface of the bay 
populated with icebergs and alive with eider-ducks, 
guillemots, kitti wakes and a variety of gulls. Above 
the smiling disc, with a background of delicate blue, 
sailed, lazily, fleecy clouds like moving bridal veils 
with their borders tinged a rosy hue. In the fore- 
ground was spread out the rippling waters of the 
harbor, resplendent in the golden hue reflected upon 
it by the orb of gold, and in the distance the great 
ice-cap in full Alpine glow. A panorama of such 
majesty and exquisite beauty no artist can repro- 



duce with anything approximately equal to the 
original ; and no author can describe it and do justice 
to nature's miraculous works of art. Even the 
most unappreciative of nature's inexhaustible ar- 
tistic displays must become spellbound when face 
to face with the panorama, painted on land and sea, 
by the midnight sun in the solitude of the far North. 
I revel in the anticipation of seeing, night after 
night, for the next, three or four weeks, the glorious 
midnight sun from different points in the very heart 
of the arctics. 

"Mighty ruler of day and night! 

Conqueror of cold, ice, and snow, 
We greet thee in this land of blight, 
Upon which you so much bestow. 

Glorious orb of night and day, 

Shine brightly on the icy shore; 
Your choicest gifts do not delay 

Where waves and ice forever roar. 

Life and soul of whole creation, 

Shine long and warm where now you are ; 

Warm friend of every nation, 

Keep up with ice your bloodless war. 

Light of heaven so near the pole, 

Breathe warmth and life while you are here, 

Cheer many a discouraged soul, 

And grant your favors every year." 

In this latitude, the midnight sun shines for no 
days and offsets the gloom of the midwinter night, 
lasting for 118 days. 

Wednesday, August 2d. Yesterday was a beau- 
tiful summer day, the thermometer in the sun, rising 


to 80 F., the highest temperature recorded during 
the entire trip. I was out all day hunting, and 
even a light sweater felt uncomfortably warm. This 
morning, a sudden gale set in from the north with 
chilly breath from the region of everlasting ice and 
soon converted the smooth, peaceful waters of the 
bay into angry, foam-crested waves. The wind is 
so strong that it required two anchors to hold the 
little steamer in place. I wished to go on shore, 
but the captain insisted that none of his life-boats 
could reach it with any degree of safety. The sky 
is overcast and the thermometer has fallen to 42 F. 
and a very dense fog has shut out familiar, near-by 
landmarks. The natives must have foreseen this 
storm as all of them, with the exception of an old 
man, his wife and babe and two boys, left the ship 
last night without giving any explanation for their 
sudden departure. These children of nature are 
familiar with the indications which announce bad 
weather in this latitude and can predict almost, with 
certainty, sudden changes without consulting govern- 
ment weather reports. Their kayaks are only safe 
on smooth water, and no Eskimo can be induced to 
go out in stormy weather. 

Drowning accidents by tipping over of these 
frail crafts are by no means rare and have taught 
them to exercise caution. These frail canoes are, on 
the average, fourteen feet long and two feet wide in 
the center, tapering gradually into a sharp point 
fore and aft. They are made of a light wooden 
framework, the different pieces lashed together 
with cords made of walrus hide, covered and decked 


over with sealskins deprived of their hair, leaving a 
central opening only large enough for the one occu- 
pant to sit in. When a woman is taken on board, 
she lies flat on her face on the rear of the kayak; or 
the canoe is rendered more steady by fastening two 
inflated sealskins, one on each side, a little behind 
the prow, when she can sit on deck. These kayaks 
are fine specimens of ship-building, skin-curing 
and sewing, and are so light that they can be easily 
carried under one arm, their weight not exceeding 
thirty-five pounds. The kayak has been in use for 
a long time by the Eskimos of South Greenland, but 
when Captain Cook visited the Eskimos of Smith 
Sound (1851-1854), he found them without any 
means whatever to travel on the open sea. 

The Eskimos here, evidently, received their first 
ideas of ship-building from their countrymen in the 
Danish settlements and, at present, turn out kayaks 
superior to any of those found along the coast of 
Danish Greenland. The scarcity of wood in North 
Greenland is best shown by the double paddle with 
which the kayak is propelled. These are often 
made of many pieces of wood lashed together with 
walrus-hide cords. 

Toward evening, after the storm had subsided, 
a man between sixty -five and seventy years came on 
board, where he met his family who came the evening 
before. He was a cripple, and could only move 
about by crawling on his hands and knees. The 
palms of his hands and the bearskin trousers over 
the knees showed evidences of hard and long usage. 
We learned that a few years ago, while hunting seal, 

Tlis first day on crutches 


he was injured by the bursting of the barrel of his 
old gun. A splinter struck him over the right eye, 
knocking him senseless, and he remained in this 
condition for some time, until he was rescued by his 
companions. The left foot was frozen so severely that 
gangrene set in. Then, after months of suffering, 
the line of demarcation formed. His toes dangled 
loosely, remaining attached to the foot by the more 
resisting tendons. He begged his wife to sever the 
toes and she did so with one sweep of the knife. 
The end of the stump healed, after a long time; but 
nearly the entire plantar surface remains in a state 
of chronic ulceration. The only dressing for this foul 
ulcer was a slipper made of bearskin and worn inside 
of the sealskin boot. Several scars over the anchy- 
losed ankle-joint were the proofs that it had been 
involved in the inflammatory process following the 
freezing of the foot. The foot, or rather the stump, 
was fixed in a flexed position. A large scar over 
the right eye and a deep depression near the root 
of the nose on the same side showed the location and 
extent of the injury inflicted by the splinter of the 
bursting gun. We disinfected the foot and ulcer, 
applied an appropriate dressing, instructed his wife, 
and gave her enough material to continue the treat- 
ment for a long time. The man was a giant of his 
race, but the intermittent pulse and the difficult 
breathing on making any physical exertions showed 
only too plainly that his time for hunting polar bear 
and walrus had passed. His wife took no inconsid- 
erable pride in having amputated his gangrenous 
toes in such primitive fashion, and seemed to be very 


attentive to him; while he, in turn, reciprocated the 
tender affection in a visible manner and paid much 
attention to the infant child sleeping in its mother's 
hood. One of the engineers made a pair of crutches 
for him and he is delighted to be able to walk erect 
with their aid. Poor fellow! he will never be able 
to provide again food and clothing for himself and 
family, but the members of his tribe will take care 
of them. As long as any of them have food and furs 
they will not suffer. 


Toes amputated. Ulcer on the sole 
of the foot 


I have seen enough of the inland ice of Green- 
land to have become impressed with its vastness 
and utter desolation. It is in every sense of the 
word, as Peary calls it, the Sahara of Greenland. 
From North Star Bay, a splendid view of the ice- 
cap can be obtained in two directions one over the 
valley and the other at the head of the bay. In the 
latter place, three leaders of the inland ice end at 
the water's edge in the form of iceberg-yielding 
glaciers. One of these glaciers is at least two miles 
in width. To look at the smooth, clean surface of 
this gigantic mass of ice, which holds at least four- 
fifths of Greenland permanently in its merciless 
grasp, reflecting the rays of the all-day sun, as I had 
an opportunity of doing here for ten consecutive 
days, is a pleasure allotted to but a favored few. 
Near the edge, ridges and peaks of buried moun- 
tains project above the sea of ice in the form of bare, 
black prominences, in strong contrast with the silver 
frosted and the varying delicate blue and roseate 
colors of the ice. The crevasses at the free margins 
of the ice extend far into the solid mass and break the 
continuity of the surface in various directions. The 
production of these immense fissures is attended by 
detonations, varying in intensity from the report 
of a rifle to the peals and mutterings of thunder. 
Everywhere along the wall of ice little rivulets carry 

9 129 


away the water from melting ice and snow. The 
purity of the water and the murmuring of these 
diminutive watercourses are things the traveler 
enjoys but cannot be appreciated by the natives. 

"Pure, gurgling rills the lonely desert trace, 
And waste their music on the savage race." 

This great desert of ice has been explored by 
Nordenskiold (1883), Nansen (1888), and, most 
thoroughly, by Peary in 1892. These noted explor- 
ers of the far North proved that the interior of Green- 
land is an unbroken sheet of ice covered with snow 
and ascending, by gentle inclines from both east 
and west coasts, to the highest summit reached by 
Peary, 8,000 feet above the level of the sea. 

The projecting lands, called nunataks, are more 
numerous in South than North Greenland as the 
melting process from the effects of the summer sun is 
more pronounced there, gradually reducing the thick- 
ness of the ice-shield. The thickness of the ice in 
the interior is estimated by Peary at 5,000 to 6,000 
feet, and its edge is often 1,000 feet thick and moves 
constantly toward the sea. As a rule, the ice move- 
ment seaward is only sufficient to make up for the 
loss caused by thawing. This inward ice reaches out 
its cold hands toward the sea in the form of glaciers. 
There are hundreds of them, but few reach the sea or 
are of first magnitude. Garde counted 170 along the 
southeast coast; but, according to Peary, there are 
perhaps less than 100 in all Greenland that reach the 
sea and produce icebergs, and only less than fifty 
of them are of the first importance. According to 
Doctor Kane, the polar glaciers retain a temperature 


of not far from 32 F., which enables them to re- 
sume their great function of movement and dis- 
charge readily when the cold of winter is at an end 
and not improbably to temper to some extent the 
natural rigor of the climate. 

The production of icebergs from these glaciers 
that project over the water takes place by debacle. 
The event is announced by a thundering noise, and 
the leap of the liberated icebergs creates a local 
storm which lasts for some time. The dance of the 
iceberg after its detachment lasts for several minutes, 
and it is nearly an hour before the smoothness of 
the water is restored and the iceberg has found its 

Most of the icebergs that reach the Northern 
Atlantic have their origin along the short strip of 
the west coast between 68 30' and 75 north lati- 
tude. Glacier movement was first observed and 
described by Agassiz in the Alpine glaciers of Switz- 
erland. Professor Chamberlain, of the University 
of Chicago, spent one summer on the west coast of 
Greenland for the special purpose of studying glacier 
movement here, and no better field could he have 
chosen for such investigation. Here the large 
glaciers move, it is said, at the rate of about two 
feet an hour. The great glacier near Upernavik 
has been observed to move ninety feet a day; but, 
according to Peary, the speed of glacier movement 
has been generally overestimated. 


Before sailing from Sydney, the captain of the 
"Erik" received instruction from Commander Peary 
to make the first stop in North Star Bay and to wait 
there for the "Roosevelt," his ship, until August 
loth, and then to proceed to the final destination, 
Etah, if the "Roosevelt" failed to make her appear- 
ance by that date, and unload there the cargo of 
coal and whale meat. I made use of my time during 
our sojourn at North Star Bay in exploring the 
interior as far as could be done by daily inland trips, 
hunting and collecting botanical specimens. It was 
a continuous, long day with bright sunshine nearly 
all the time. The temperature ranged between 44 
F. and 67 F. in the shade. The difference between 
night and day temperature did not exceed on an 
average, more than 6J F. The summer climate 
of this part of Greenland is noted for the equa- 
nimity of the temperature. The air was dry and 
bracing, the kind of air that invites one to active 
exercise of body and mind. 

From three to twenty-five Eskimos were con- 
stantly on board our vessel, which gave me an excel- 
lent opportunity to study these interesting specimens 
of humanity inhabiting the most northern part of 
the world. A personal inspection of their near-by 
settlement satisfied me that their food supply was 
short, and hence we were not astonished that they 


seemed to enjoy the ordinary ship diet which con- 
sisted largely of salted pork and hard tack. They 
appeared to be particularly fond of coffee, which 
was served out to them in not too concentrated a 
form. The women did some washing in a most 
primitive way and the men made themselves useful 
in rowing the ship's boats to and from the shore. 
They also made themselves very useful to me in my 
inland hunting expeditions. As money is here no 
inducement for labor, I was glad to have brought 
with me a liberal supply of knives and scissors with 
which I could remunerate them for their services. 

As the natives from the adjacent settlement 
came to and returned from the ship in their kayaks, 
we saw much of this kind of native marine life. 
The women, and children from eight to twelve years 
of age, showed themselves peers of their husbands 
and fathers in managing these treacherous little 
canoes. If I had done nothing else but study the 
panoramic views all around the ship at anchor, the 
time would have been well spent. The bay teemed 
with icebergs of all sizes and endless shapes, from a 
regular square as though it had been cut in a quarry 
with the upper surface as clean and smooth as a 
polished floor, to the most grotesque, fantastic, 
and artistic designs; and from the size of an entire 
block to that of a dog kennel. 


When we arrived in North Star Bay, this great 
sheet of arctic water was punctuated at short intervals 
by icebergs and daily newcomers arrived, seeking 


admission, and joined the multitude that had pre- 
ceded them. The new arrivals came fresh and 
strong, showing little wear and tear during their 
short journey from the near-by places where they 
were born. They must have been astonished to 
find the grave changes the warm midnight sun of 
the oasis of the arctic region had wrought in those 
that had preceded them. The warmth of the sun 
of the arctic summer sent down upon these strange 
visitors of the bay, unceasingly, night and day, 
soon converted the bay into a veritable graveyard 
for old and young, large and small, of these 
messengers from a still farther north. The sur- 
face of the water was strewn with glittering rem- 
nants of former giants. The immense masses of 
floating icebergs, in a state of advanced disintegra- 
tion under the effects of the ardent rays of the August 
midnight sun, broke up into two or more parts with 
a thundering crash, after which the reeling, dancing, 
smaller bergs caused a miniature storm in the immedi- 
ate vicinity of the accident. Many such accidents 
we witnessed during our ten days' sojourn in the 
bay. One of the icebergs, in a most dilapidated 
condition, came near enough to the ship to be las- 
soed by the sailors and hauled to the port side of 
the ship. A bridge was soon thrown over the gap 
between the deck and the iceberg and the sailors 
were at once busily engaged with ax, pick and 
baskets harvesting ice and filling the water tanks 
with the purest of ice, a very excellent way by which 
to replenish the failing water supply. One of the 
icebergs in the bay had dwindled down to the size 


and shape of a gigantic champagne glass with a hole 
on one side, in which we saw a saddle-seal taking 
his afternoon nap. Along the east shore of the bay 
the bergs were crowding each other, obstinately 
holding their respective places. 

Birds perched on some of the smaller icebergs, 
resting their fatigued wings and enjoying the warm 
sunshine so fatal to their perishable crafts. The 
warm weather was in fierce conflict with the icy 
elements. Reports like the firing of a cannon an- 
nounced the birth of a new iceberg, the breaking up 
of an old one, or a new gigantic fissure in the margin 
of the near-by ice-cap, and the noise of volley firing, 
kept up almost without ceasing, meant accidents 
of a similar nature on a smaller scale. The speed 
with which these icebergs succumbed to the all-day 
arctic rays of the sun was something astonishing. 
Nearly every day I crossed the bay in different 
directions hunting seal and arctic birds, and very 
often icebergs familiar one day would be unrecog- 
nizable the next. A giant entering the bay in the 
evening would be found dwarfed the next day. 
Bergs with proud, lofty towers and steeples, with 
arches, doorways and windows on their arrival, 
would be a shapeless mass next day. Truly our 
good ship was anchored in the very midst of a ceme- 
tery for icebergs. 


We came just in time to see Greenland's floral 
exhibit at its very best. In our climate we have 
spring, summer, and autumn flowers, with their 
distinctive charms and characteristics. Greenland 
has no spring, no fall, and the summer is so short 
that nature has to make haste in her vegetable 
kingdom to propagate her hardy plants. The 
flowers bud, bloom, and ripen their seed in the short 
space of two months. There is no time to mature 
sugar or starch-producing plants, and no time to 
waste in growing fragrant flowers. The hardy flow- 
ering plants, which, during the short space of time 
allotted to them, perpetuate their species, are found 
here. All of the flowers are small, without fra- 
grance whatever, and in the simplest kind of dress. 
Few of them have more than one color and most of 
them lack the delicate shading of hues, that 
distinguish the flowers in more favored climates 
and impart to them their exquisite beauty. These 
plain little flowers are fresh and pretty but none of 
them are gorgeous. They are simple and modest 
and make no attempt at display. Owing to the 
shortness of the season, the different kinds of flowers 
blossom nearly at the same time. Under the magic 
influence of continuous sunlight, the seeds sprout 
and the buds expand with an activity unknown in 
our climate. 

When we arrived in North Star Bay, the season 



of flowers was at its height. The yellow poppy was 
in its glory and in many places draped the scanty 
sward, the mossy tundra, the mountainsides, and 
stony mesas in a garb of yellow. A tiny, ruby-col- 
ored flower, always in little bunches crowning the 
leafy stem not more than two inches in length, met 
the eye everywhere and grew in places where it was 
difficult to detect enough soil in which to take root 
and from which to abstract enough nourishment 
during its short summer life. White and yellow 
are the prevailing colors of the flowers in the heart 
of the arctics. Some of these flowers and the 
plants producing them were so small that one had 
to look very carefully to detect them in the short 
grass and mosses which overtowered them. 

At the end of ten days, when we left North Star 
Bay, most of the flowers had withered and their 
seeds were maturing with the same marvelous rapid- 
ity as the previous budding and expansion of the 
flowers. The constant sunshine and the warmth 
of the summer air act like charms in speeding vege- 
tation, and what our soil accomplishes in several 
weeks takes place here in a few days. I made patient 
search for edible plants, but only found sorrel, two 
kinds of cress, dandelions, and cowslips, which might 
be utilized as vegetables; but none of these except 
the cresses were in sufficient quantity to serve as a 
vegetable diet, and the natives could not be induced 
to make a trial with any of them. The vegetable 
kingdom yields grasses, mosses, and flowers only 
for a few weeks during midsummer and the 
natives have no appreciation of the beauty of flowers 
and no desire for vegetable food. 


Cold and desolate as North Greenland is, it can- 
not exterminate maternal love in the animals which 
inhabit it. The struggle for life, hard as it is in this 
inhospitable region, has had no effect in dimming 
the spark of love in the mother's heart for the helpless 
young. Maternity implies care and much anxiety. 
The maternal love of many animals equals, if it does 
not surpass, the love of the human species for its 
offspring. The female polar bear will defy death 
in defense of its helpless cub. One of the most 
dangerous foes is the walrus when its young is in 
danger. The seal mother will risk her life at any 
time when her infant is in need of her defense. Many 
stories have been related of the heroism of these 
inhabitants of the far North when the lives of their 
little ones were in danger. It seems, if any thing, 
that the arctic climate adds fuel to the fire of mater- 
nal love. I have seen this virtue exhibited on many 
occasions during my hunting trips in different parts 
of the world and saw much of it during my brief 
stay in Greenland. On one of my inland hunting 
excursions I came to a fresh- water pool in a valley, 
when I saw an eider-duck flying low toward the 
pool and evidently with the intention of alighting 
on the pool. The second barrel dropped her. I 
then saw another eider-duck on the water within 
easy range of the gun. I was astonished to find 



her remaining after I had fired the two shots. In 
looking for the cause of the unusual behavior of the 
bird, I discovered nestling near her three tiny yellow 
ducklings that evidently had left their shell only a 
few days before. They could neither fly nor dive. 
I watched this fatherless little family for a long time 
and noticed that the little ones made every effort 
to come toward where I was standing. ' Their 
frightened, anxious mother did everything in her 
power to ward them off and make them swim in an 
opposite direction by a peculiar cackling noise and 
vigorous movements, keeping them together and 
pushing them in the direction of greater safety. 
In walking along the border of the pool I discovered 
why the baby ducks wanted to come my way. I 
found a nest close to the edge of the water, a simple 
shallow depression in the grass, and near it three 
broken egg-shells so recently vacated. I finally 
cornered the family in a narrow part of the pool, 
within thirty feet from me. I made all kinds of 
attempts to chase the mother away, but to no avail. 
Heroically she stood her ground in the defense of 
her innocent, helpless infants. Being so closely 
pressed, she commenced to become defiant, flapping 
her wings, raising her body and hissing at me as if 
to say, "Kill me if you dare!" No one but a brute 
would have harmed this devoted mother. It was 
a source of pleasure to me to see the distressed little 
family made happy by my leaving that little pond 
in quest for more legitimate game. 

One day the steamer, after a long and vain search 
for walrus, was headed toward Saunders Island, 


at the inlet of the bay, for the purpose of giving me 
an opportunity to see one of its great bird cliffs, 
and do some wholesale shooting among the millions 
of birds that make the cliffs their summer home. Our 
fresh meat supply had been exhausted for some 
time, and my only excuse for doing what I did on 
this occasion was to secure for ourselves, officers, 
and crew fresh meat. Within half a mile of these 
cliffs the ship was anchored and two of us boarded 
one of the life-boats and were rowed within gunshot 
range of the cliffs. It would be impossible to give 
the reader a correct idea of the wealth of bird-life 

The cliffs were almost perpendicular to a height 
of more than 500 feet. This perpendicular wall is 
shelved by the layers of sandstone and every shelf 
was densely crowded with birds' nests. Two kinds 
of birds make these cliffs their annual breeding 
places, the kittiwakes and Brimmch's guillemots. 
These two kinds of birds are congenial to each other, 
but here as elsewhere, while they are near neighbors 
they do not mingle indiscriminately. By common 
consent, the kittiwakes occupy the lower shelves 
and the guillemots the upper. 

As we approached the island, the cliffs became 
alive with birds, and the air resembled the surround- 
ings of a beehive set in commotion by a sudden 
intrusion, literally darkened by the moving shadows 
of thousands and thousands of kittiwakes and 
guillemots flying in all directions. Most of the young 
birds were still in their nests craning their necks, 
anxious to learn the cause of this sudden commotion. 


The shooting now commenced and it rained birds, 
which fell on the rippling water at the base of the 
cliff. The intensity of the maternal love of these 
arctic birds was put to a severe test on this occasion, 
but it remained steadfast. For a moment after a 
shot was fired, the old birds would leave their home 
in the immediate vicinity, where a number of victims 
fell dead, but, in less time than it takes to write this, 
their places would again be occupied by others. It 
was their little ones with bills wide open, terror- 
stricken, unable to find safety in flight that were 
responsible for this manifestation of fearlessness and 
heroism. Shooting under such circumstances was 
no sport it was cold-blooded slaughter, but we were 
sadly in need of fresh meat and here was our best 
chance. In less than half an hour two of us killed 
140 birds; none of them were wasted, every one of 
them was used in changing the monotony of the 
scanty bill of fare on board the "Erik." The skins 
were eagerly sought by the Eskimo women, who 
chewed and dried them preparatory to making them 
into underclothing for the coming winter. 


Until very recently, the Danish possessions of 
Greenland did not extend farther north on the west 
coast than Upernavik, where the most northern 
Danish settlement is located. This settlement was 
the northern limit of the Danish jurisdiction on the 
west coast. No other nation made any claim on the 
land north of Upernavik. The country north of this 
point was supposed to be unclaimed neutral territory. 
This was our impression when we were in North Star 

Monday morning, August yth, a steamer entered 
the bay, and as we had no reason to expect any other 
ship but the "Roosevelt," we were glad to see her 
arrive in good time. The hunting not having turned 
out as well as expected, and we being anxious to 
proceed farther north, which, by orders given by 
Commander Peary, we could not do until the arrival 
of the "Roosevelt" or the expiration of the time 
fixed, August loth, every eye was fixed on the new- 
comer. Even at a great distance the vessel appeared 
too small for the "Roosevelt." As the ship came 
nearer, we soon ascertained her identity. She 
carried the Danish flag. It was "The Fox," a 200- 
ton Danish government steamer. The little coast 
steamer anchored as near as possible to the coast 
where the native settlement is located. During the 
day our captain paid a visit to the steamer, and 


toward evening her commander came on board the 
"Erik" and explained to us the object of his visit 
to this part of the coast. He brought the natives 
substantial presents from Mr. Erickson, a Danish 
scientist, who a few years ago spent a winter on 
Saunders Island and to whom the Eskimos had been 
very kind and rendered him much valuable service. 
He sent them lumber, firearms, ammunition, coffee, 
knives, scissors, needles, and many other articles 
which he knew they would appreciate out of grati- 
tude for the many courtesies he had received. The 
Commander also informed us that he had been 
instructed by his government to find two harbors, 
one in this bay and the other near Etah for the estab- 
lishment of two additional Danish settlements. It 
is expected that next summer the necessary govern- 
ment buildings will be constructed, thus extending 
the Danish possessions the whole length of the west 
coast of Greenland. 

This extension of the Danish rule north of Uper- 
navik has for its objects to control the entire trade 
in fur, ivory, and eiderdown, and to civilize the few 
remaining Smith Sound Eskimos. This move on 
the part of the Danes to those who are familiar with 
the resources of this part of the Greenland coast is 
a profitable business enterprise, as iron and copper 
ore have been discovered here and the trade in 
ivory and fur, and the eiderdown from Dalrymple 
Rock and Eiderduck Island, will more than balance 
all expenses, to say nothing of the possible income 
from the mineral resources. Americans have done 
so much in exploring this part of Greenland that 


their claim on it should be valid, but unfortunately 
the Danes have outwitted us in this matter and 
all Greenland is now practically under Danish rule. 
For three years the same steamer has visited nearly 
all the Eskimo settlements annually; and the income 
from ivory and fur must have been considerable, 
as money is unknown here and the natives are given 
articles of merchandise in exchange for the products 
of chase. The Danish government treats the natives 
with the utmost kindness and, with a view to im- 
proving their conditions of life, this expansion will 
bring every Eskimo within the range of civilization. 
"The Fox" left the same day at five o'clock in the 
afternoon on her return trip to Egedesminde. Be- 
sides the officers and crew, she had on board a 
government physician and several scientists. 




The "Roosevelt" was sighted at one o'clock 
Wednesday morning, August pth. Her arrival 
marked an important event for all of us. I was 
particularly anxious to push farther north and spend 
as much of my time as possible in the neighborhood 
where so many explorers had spent their long winter 
night. With the stars and stripes flying from the 
middle mast, the vessel, bearing the name of our 
strenuous president, glided proudly over the smooth 
water of the bay at half speed, in the brilliant light 
of the midnight sun. On both vessels everybody 
was on deck in anxious anticipation of the meeting. 
When within almost speaking distance the "Roose- 
velt" struck a rock with a heavy thud, and came to 
a sudden standstill. The "Erik" at once went to 
her relief and, when within reach, a cable was carried 
across. The vigorous reverse action of the pro- 
peller of the "Roosevelt" aided by the traction of 
the "Erik," in half an hour released her from the 
hard bed of rock and she was again afloat. On the 
deck of the "Roosevelt" stood many fur-clad Eski- 
mos, who had been taken on board at Cape York 
and adjoining settlements, curiously watching the 
movements of the "Erik" and scanning their country- 
men and the crew on her deck. The dogs on deck 
of the "Roosevelt" barked and howled. In the 
center of the group of Eskimos stood Commander 



Peary, in his summer suit of fur, towering far above 
them like an immense giant. His long hair fluttered 
in the morning breeze. He wore a sealskin coat, 
polar bear fur trousers, and sealskin boots. He 
came on board the "Erik" and dispatched the "Roose- 
velt," under command of Captain Bartlett, at 
once to Etah. We learned that the delay of the 
"Roosevelt" was due to an accident to one of her 
boilers when two days out from Sydney, an occur- 
rence which reduced her speed from fourteen to 
seven and a half knots an hour. 



"The gods look with favour on superior 
courage. ' ' Tacitus. 

Commander Peary is a remarkable man. His 
persistent efforts to reach the north pole have 
earned for him a well-merited international repu- 
tation. He has made this feat his life work and 
is determined more than ever to accomplish it. After 
his repeated trips to the arctic regions, he has spent 
two years in making preparation for this expedition. 
During this time he planned and supervised the 
building of the "Roosevelt." His large experience 
in righting pack-ice has given him many new ideas 
in ship construction for this special purpose. The 
"Roosevelt" is an ice fighter and will not disappoint 
the sanguine expectations of the one who gave the 
most important ideas to her designer. No expedi- 
tion ever sought the north pole so carefully planned 
and so thoroughly equipped as this one. Commander 
Peary has reached the fiftieth milestone of his daring 
career. His presence in any gathering would at 
once attract attention. He is above average height, 
spare but wiry, has reddish-brown hair and beard 
lightly sprinkled with gray, blue penetrating eyes, 
firm lips and massive lower jaw, so suggestive of 
courage and determination. His slow, accurate 
speech and precise, quick movements remind one of 
his naval training and give evidence of his superior 



executive abilities. Everything about this extraor- 
dinary man suggests that he is a leader of men, a 
man who makes his plans carefully and then loses 
no time in executing them. He is a great worker 
and knows how to induce other people to follow his 

He is plain in his habits, having placed himself 
in training for this arduous work ever since he de- 
termined to undertake it. He told me that the 
fewer needs a man has in this part of the world, the 
less he would miss the luxuries of home life. His 
familiarity with the geography of North Greenland, 
and his knowledge of the natives, their language, 
habits, and customs, and his vast experience in the 
far North, which has taught him how to live here, 
make him the right man in the right place. His 
fearlessness when confronted by danger is well known, 
and has been tested by many experiences which 
would make ordinary men shrink from repeating 
them. He enjoys the confidence of his many Eski- 
mo friends who accompanied him on his previous 
expeditions, and who know that they can always 
rely on what he says and does. He is an eloquent 
example of the force and truth of the sentiment : 

"Constant exposure to danger will inspire 
contempt for it." Seneca. 


On this part of our journey we were favored by 
the presence of Commander Peary, who seldom left 
the bridge, and explained to us the different points 
of interest. He gave us interesting accounts of 
Eskimo life, the habits of animals who inhabit this 
region, and his own experiences during his previous 

We left North Star Bay after midnight, August 
nth. In a straight line the distance from the bay 
to Etah is only 140 miles. This distance was more 
than doubled by calling on the four or five native 
settlements scattered along the coast of Inglefield 
Gulf, a broad body of water which extends eighty 
miles inland from the main coast. We arrived at 
Whale Sound early in the morning. In passing 
the most important landmarks of the coast line, 
Cape Parry and Cape Radcliff, we had an excellent 
view of Hakluyt and Northumberland Islands, lim- 
iting Whale Sound to the north. After rounding 
Cape Radcliff, we came in full view of Barden Bay 
and the great Tyndall glacier. Beyond this point, 
the coast is a succession of rugged mountain peaks 
and small glaciers. Among the latter Peary pointed 
out a secondary glacier, created by the breaking off 
of an enormous mass of ice from a glacier which did 
not reach the shore; consequently the ice, falling on 
firm land, formed the nucleus of a daughter glacier, 


which in the course of time reached out into the 
frigid water of the sound. 

At the junction of Whale Sound with Murchison 
Sound, two great arms of the sea extend inland, 
Inglefield Gulf and Olrik's Bay, which include a 
large island and are connected by Academy Bay. 
The coasts of Olrik's Bay are, at the present time, 
the favorite haunts of the reindeer. Commander 
Peary assured me that large herds of these animals 
can be seen from the deck of a vessel ascending the 
bay. It is from this locality he obtained his supply 
of venison during the winter he spent in Bowdoin 

It was the intention of Peary to visit every native 
settlement on our inland voyage. At the inlet of 
Inglefield Gulf we passed Kanga, but the most vigor- 
ous blowing of the whistle brought no indications 
of life. The old Eskimo settlement here had, evi- 
dently, been abandoned and the natives had sought 
better hunting grounds farther up Inglefield Gulf. 


Inglefield Gulf is unquestionably the most pic- 
turesque spot in Greenland. It is a long, narrow 
sheet of water hemmed in by rugged mountains and 
glaciers, with the towering ice-cap constantly in 
view on both sides. From the entrance of the gulf, 
the ice-cap can be plainly seen at its head, seventy- 
five miles away, looming up far above anything else, 
like a gigantic mass of frosted silver. The steep 
walls of gneiss and granite enclosing this inland arm 
of the sea, intersected by deep ravines in which the 

-3 > 



glaciers dwell, moving lazily seaward to contribute 
their share of young icebergs, are a sight which must 
please the most unappreciative eye. 

We found the gulf thickly populated with mag- 
nificent icebergs, and between them no inconsider 
able amount of pack-ice. Looking ahead of the 
ship, icebergs and pack-ice appeared to form an 
impassable barrier to further progress and our cap- 
tain considered it as such; but Commander Peary, 
more familiar with such a sight, had no such fear. 
The man in the crow's nest could see far ahead and 
pointed out lanes through which the vessel could 
pass with safety. The innumerable icebergs in this 
gulf, all of them offsprings of the many glaciers 
which are contributing to it and the fields of pack- 
ice crowding their way between them on their 
journey seaward, form panoramic views of ex- 
quisite beauty. Inglefield Gulf has a warm spot 
in the heart of Commander Peary. He calls it the 
most beautiful part of the oasis of the arctic region. 
He spent two winters of his eventful life in this 
neighborhood ; one in McCormick Bay, an offshoot of 
Murchison Sound; the other in Bowdoin Bay, an 
arm of Inglefield Gulf. Anniversary Lodge of Bow- 
doin Bay is the birthplace of his little daughter. It 
is in this locality that he is perfectly at home, and 
where he has left the strongest impressions of his 
careful investigations and permanent landmarks in 
memory of his devoted and courageous wife. The 
most conspicuous point of Northumberland Island 
he called Josephine Head, and an island at the very 
head of the gulf is known as Josephine Island. 


This island is embraced on the northeast side by 
two great glaciers, leaders of the great ice-cap, 
Melville Glacier and Farquhar Glacier. Nearly the 
entire year one can ascend from the island over 
these great ice-bridges to the inland ocean of ice. 
The iceberg supply never fails in the gulf. Summer 
and winter they are present. During the summer, 
as the veteran icebergs slowly move seaward, new 
ones take their place from the many contributory 

Even from the deck of the steamer we discovered 
that, in moist places, along the coast patches of green 
meadows relieved the prevailing monotony of bare 
rock and the marble whiteness of ice. The climate 
here during the summer months is delightful. Fog 
seldom comes so far inland, and the continuous 
sunshine and protection from severe winds make it 
an ideal summer resort for invalids. 

Arctic vegetation is at its best here and the nu- 
merous natives who have selected the gulf coast for 
permanent habitations would render a brief sum- 
mer visit of invalids most interesting and instructive. 

Showing glacier and pan ice 



The popularity of Commander Peary among the 
real Eskimos is best shown by the way in which he 
recruited his native contingent for the present ex- 
pedition. At the first inhabited settlement we called 
upon, we could see from the deck of the steamer a 
number of women standing on a high bluff behind 
the tents gazing at us. There were numerous dogs 
prowling about the grounds. Five tents, near a 
glacier and perched on the banks of a roaring moun- 
tain stream, made up the habitations of the natives. 

Commander Peary went ashore and learned that 
the men were away on a hunting expedition and 
were not expected to return until late in the even- 
ing. The third settlement farther up the gulf con- 
sisted of the same number of tents. As Commander 
Peary landed, the natives gathered around him and 
in less than half an hour we observed that the tents 
were being taken down, and, under his personal 
supervision, all of the inhabitants, twenty in num- 
ber, with all their belongings and about thirty dogs, 
were on board in less than two hours. Two of our 
row boats and the native kayaks were used in the 
house-moving. These people knew nothing of Peary's 
coming in the morning, and in the evening they 
were all safely housed on the deck of the "Erik." 
The confidence of these people in Commander Peary 
is absolute. They have served him during his pre- 
vious visits and know, from their experience in the 


past, that they can trust him. The natives taken 
aboard here showed all the indications of at least 
temporary prosperity. They were a happy -looking 
lot of people, much cleaner and better dressed than 
those we had on board from North Star Bay or those 
on the "Roosevelt" from Cape York. They brought 
with them a large quantity of valuable fur, skins of 
the polar bear, reindeer, seal, arctic fox, and hare. 
They live in a place so remote from the coast that 
they have had but little communication with the 
outside world ; consequently, they have remained true 
to their primitive habits and customs. 

Another reason which goes far to explain the 
prosperity of these people is the fact that the head of 
Inglefield Gulf is one of the best hunting grounds. 
Walrus, narwhal, reindeer, and seal are quite plenti- 
ful here. The narwhal has selected the head of this 
gulf as one of its favorite feeding places during the 
summer. The walrus, on the other hand, makes 
Murchison's Sound, near the entrance of Inglefield 
Gulf, its gathering point from earliest spring until 
late in the fall. These two giant sea- animals are 
deathly enemies and avoid meeting each other as 
much as possible; but when they do meet, a bloody 
encounter is the usual outcome. 

About midnight, we called at a native settle- 
ment on Harvard Island, at the very head of the 
gulf and within full view of the ice-cap and a number 
of glaciers of the first magnitude. The natives living 
in the two tents, their dogs, and all their possessions 
were on board the "Erik" in less than two 
hours. When Peary went after them there was 


no need of making any arguments their faith in 
him was all that was necessary to make this unex- 
pected sudden change. House-moving in the 
arctics, with Peary at the head, is a very simple and 
prompt affair. I doubt if any other man in the 
whole world could accomplish the same object so 
promptly, or at all. These Eskimos had killed a 
narwhal during the day, and brought it on board. 
It was a young female about twelve feet in length 
and weighing about 800 pounds. We saw, during 
the evening, a herd of these animals swimming very 
much like the porpoise. The interesting features of 
this herd were the males with a horn six to twelve 
feet in length, their gigantic eyetooth, projecting 
from the left side of the upper jaw. This is their 
weapon of defense which, during the bounding gait 
of the animals, often appeared high above the sur- 
face of the water. The female, as a rule, has no such 
means of warfare, relying on her male companion 
when she is in danger. 


When the natives cut up the narwhal I improved 
the opportunity to take some notes on the more 
important points of the anatomy of this interesting 
sea animal. The skin is very thick, leathery, and 
of a grayish white color, and is considered a great 
delicacy by the Eskimo, who eat it raw. I sampled 
this Eskimo dish and it proved quite agreeable. 
What chewing of gum is to the American youth, 
narwhal skin chewing is to the Eskimo. Fresh, raw 
narwhal skin has a well-established reputation in 


the Danish settlements as a specific for scurvy. The 
governor of Godhavn informed me that scurvy is 
quite a common winter disease in that part of Green- 
land, but that it disappears in the spring as soon as 
the natives can get a supply of narwhal skin. The 
layer of fat between the skin and the muscles is about 
four to five inches in thickness. Uterus bicornis. 
One of the ovaries was removed, preserved in form- 
alin solution, and on my return was presented to 
Dr. Byron Robinson for histological study. The 
muscle tissue is very coarse and scanty in amount 
considering the great strength of the animal. Along 
the posterior surface of the spine is a band of glisten- 
ing tendon tissue about five inches in width. This 
mass of dense, fibrous tissue is prepared by the 
women by chewing and drying, and the fine, long 
fibres are used as thread in sewing clothes and boots. 
The intestinal canal is very long and the stomach 
appears to be simply a dilatation of its upper end while 
in a downward direction, gradually diminishing in 
size, the rectum being the narrowest part and which 
does not exceed in size the duodenum of an adult. 
There was no colon, cecum, or appendix. The kid- 
neys were oblong, flattened, and markedly lobulated. 
The pancreas is situated transversely behind the 
stomach part of the intestinal canal. Liver, very 
flabby, was of a deep chocolate color. There was 
no gall-bladder. One of the interesting anatomical 
anomalies of this strange animal is a rudimentary 
femur about four inches in length and not much 
larger than a goose quill imbedded in the muscle 
tissue in the location where it is in quadrupeds, a 


probable proof that ages ago the narwhal may have 
been a four-legged animal. 

Friday, August nth. We have now twenty-six 
Eskimos on board with their families, among them a 
number of infants. The babies take up no room, 
as the mothers carry them in their hoods. Among 
the newcomers is the most famous hunter who has 
had many scraps with polar bears at close range. 
Several large scars on different parts of the body 
bear witness that more than once the victory was 
dearly won. As the result of an injury he lost one 
of his eyes; but although more than sixty years of 
age, he maintains his well-earned reputation as the 
most daring and successful bear hunter. 

The increasing number of natives, and the more 
than 100 dogs so far collected, render the deck more 
and more interesting from a scientific point of view, 
but with the increase of the Eskimo population and 
the number of dogs, filth and nose-killing smells 
accumulated at an alarming rate. Before leaving 
Inglefield Gulf we had nearly 100 natives on board. 
Kayaks, sledges, tents, harpoons, fur, over-matured 
blubber, ribs of seal and walrus, the smell of which 
would frighten away any ordinary dog, were stored 
away wherever room could be found. Our lifeboats 
were brimful with the rubbish household articles 
of the Eskimos, and several of them were converted 
into family headquarters for the balance of the 
journey. The half -tame Eskimo dogs were corralled 
on one side of the deck securely picketed to reliable 
points of anchorage with walrus hide ropes. These 
beasts bark, howl, snarl, and whine most of the 


time, and desperate fights among themselves can be 
witnessed most any time, day or night. The fight- 
ing spirit of these dogs knows no limit, and all of the 
explorers suffered serious losses in the number of 
their dogs from this source, and often at a time when 
the loss of a single dog weighed heavily in the balance 
of failure of the expedition. 

The pools of blood from the dead narwhal extend- 
ing as they did, over a considerable surface of the 
deck, the filth of the improvised kennels, the lively 
fights of the dogs for their share of the smoking en- 
trails of the slaughtered beast, and the eating of 
putrid meat by the Eskimos rendered the deck 
anything but attractive at this time. Besides 
this, it had become so slippery with a coating of grease, 
blood, and coal-dust that it became necessary to 
exercise the utmost care to avoid accidents from 

It was after midnight when we took on board the 
natives of the last settlement on the north coast of 
Inglefield Gulf, after which the course of the ship 
was directed toward Murchison Sound, the favorite 
summer feeding ground of the walrus. 

Murchison is a wide arm of Baffin, Bay, which 
separates Northumberland and Herbert Islands from 
the main coast between Cape Cleveland and Cape 
Ackland. Like Inglefield Gulf, it is seldom free 
from pack-ice even during the middle of summer. 
It is on the pack or drift-ice that the walrus are 
found. Commander Peary has never failed in se- 
curing walrus whenever he visited Murchison Sound. 
On one occasion his party killed thirty in one day. 



It was the intention of the commander to devote 
this day to walrus-hunting in Murchison Sound. In 
sailing about in Inglefield Gulf, we saw many seal 
swimming in the water, one herd of narwhal, but not 
a single walrus. The arctic birds were likewise not 
nearly as numerous as in North Star Bay. About 
ten o'clock in the forenoon, a walrus was discovered, 
on entering the sound, asleep on a pan of drift-ice. 
When within half a mile the engine was brought 
to a standstill, and a boat was lowered and manned 
by Eskimos. The animal was drowsy, but once in 
a while raised the head. It allowed the boat to come 
near enough for three of the natives to throw their 
harpoons at the same instant. Two missed the mark 
and the third harpoon struck a rib, preventing the 
weapon from penetrating deep enough to hold the 
animal. This rude disturbance aroused the animal, 
and in one desperate plunge it disappeared head fore- 
most, and was not seen again. Next, a pair of animals 
were discovered on the same pan of floating ice, lying 
side by side, but took to the water before the har- 
poonists were near enough to use their weapons. At 
this time a dense fog came in from the open water and 
put an end to the hunting. The ship was allowed to 
drift among the many icebergs, which often came 
within a very short distance before they could be 
seen, and collisions were avoided by a few turns of the 
propeller and the skillful handling of the rudder. 
Toward midnight the fog was driven landward by a 
rising breeze, clearing the atmosphere sufficiently to 
enable the captain to find the settlement we called on 
first the morning of the day before, and in less than 



three hours had all of the dogs and the desirable men 
with their families on board. These roving people are 
not encumbered by unnecessary things. The clothes 
they wear, kayak, sledge, skins, and dogs constitute 
their entire luggage; and this they carry with them, 
over land and sea wherever they go. 

The Inglefield Eskimos are the possessors of a 
large rowboat presented to them, a number of years 
ago, by Commander Peary. This present is much 
appreciated by them and it has done excellent ser- 
vice during the summer months. The men manage 
this boat with skill, and use it during their hunting 
trips and in moving their families from place to 
place along the coast. To be called on at mid- 
night and transferred to a steamer, without previous 
notice, in such a short time and for such a long and 
dangerous journey is certainly a feat which could not 
be duplicated in our country except in the case of 
a well-disciplined army. These simple childlike 
people had no hesitation in following Commander 
Peary. The advisability of breaking up their homes 
on such short notice and following their leader to the 
extreme North was not discussed for a moment. 
They simply went, knowing that their white chieftain 
would take good care of them, and bring them back 
in safety. They never considered the possible risks 
of such a move. Their implicit confidence and firm 
faith were the mainsprings of their action. 

The women and children form an important part 
of the expedition. The women are excellent seam- 
stresses. They prepare the furs and make the clothes 
and boots. Young boys skin and cut up the dead 

2 C/3 


animals, and the many babies complete the family 
ties and do not hinder their mothers from doing their 
good share of the work. The Eskimo will not leave 
his family for any length of time. If he goes hunting 
only for a few days, his wife or somebody else's wife 
must . accompany him. We have several on board 
who exchanged wives before their departure. They 
are mated for this expedition, and on their return 
may resume their former marital relations. 



The walrus is one of the large, warm-blooded 
sea animals that makes the arctic regions its per- 
manent home. It will not abide for any length of 
time where there is no ice. It rests, sleeps, and 
travels on floating ice. The Eskimo excels in walrus- 
hunting. The greatest ambition of the Eskimo 
youth is to kill his first walrus, an event, when ac- 
complished, which elevates him at once to manhood, 
elevates him to the dignity of a hunter, and entitles 
him to seek for a mate. 

This huge beast of the sea furnishes the Eskimos 
with the essential articles of diet and fuel, and the 
hide is used for cordage, igloo roofs, and soles for the 
sealskin boots. It is to the natives what live stock 
is to us. The walrus (Trichechus rosmarus), called 
awick by the Eskimos, is in reality a giant seal. A 
full-grown walrus measures from twelve to twenty 
feet in length and weighs from 1,000 to 2,500 pounds. 
It is a very unseemly animal, devoid of every trait 
of beauty. When seen at a distance on pans of 
floating ice, these lazy, sleeping, or half asleep ani- 
mals look like shapeless, reddish-brown masses; and 
when in large herds, some of them moving, others 
motionless, the sight is almost repulsive, reminding 
one of a multitude of creeping maggots. This is 
the impression made on me, when we saw a large 
herd basking in the sunshine on a large pan of ice 



in Murchison Sound. The walrus is an awkward 
traveler on ice and land, but a swift and skilful 
swimmer. The long, flabby body is thickest in the 
center, like the seal. From the immense gray or 
brownish, almost hairless body, the rudimentary 
limbs project in the form of flippers. All four feet 
have five toes with short, dull claws behind the tip 
of each toe. What distinguishes the walrus from all 
other sea animals of its size, is the small unshapely, 
thick head. The nose is very short, broad, and blunt, 
the upper lip large and fleshy, curved laterally, the 
lower lip massive. On both sides of the nose are 
transverse rows of beard bristles three to four inches 
in length, the largest about the size of a crow's quill. 
The nasal orifices are semi-lunar in shape; the eyes 
small, deeply set, and brilliant, are protected by pro- 
jecting lids. The aural orifices, devoid of anything 
resembling the lobe of an ear, are far back in the 
head. The most remarkable part of the anatomy of 
the walrus is the upper canine teeth, which develop 
into tusks of prodigious size. These teeth or tusks, 
in the adult animal are twelve to twenty-four inches 
in length, slightly curved, with the concavity to- 
ward the head, and, as a rule, somewhat divergent. 
Anomalies in the development of the tusks are 
of frequent occurrence. In one of the animals killed 
on this trip, a female, the tusks converged, a rather 
unusual thing according to the observations of 
Peary. Inequality in the length of the tusks is very 
common. The tusks of the female walrus are more 
slender than in the male. The lower jaw in the 
adult has no teeth, as the teeth present in the young 


animal are deciduous. The tusks are hollow in the 
young animal but with advancing age, are trans- 
formed into a solid mass of ivory. 

The skin, brownish, or of a mottled gray, is very 
thick, rugose, knotty, and only scantily supplied 
with hair. When in mid-air, as the carcass dangles 
at the end of the rope which hauls it on deck, the 
huge body of this animal appears as a shapeless mass, 
flabby, the skin too large for the almost sickening 

These animals migrate from one feeding ground 
to another in large herds. It is a lazy animal, 
spending days on the bed of ice, without moving. 
The walrus is not a gamy animal and killing it by 
shooting is poor sport. Shooting does not alarm 
these animals, as they have become accustomed to 
such noises produced by the cracking of ice. The 
male walrus when in danger, sometimes shows fight, 
as well as the female when in charge of her defense- 
less offspring. On land these animals walk with 
difficulty; however, they do not crawl but walk on 
their imperfectly developed limbs. The tusks serve 
them a good purpose in climbing on the floating ice, 
in making breathing holes in the ice, and as a for- 
midable weapon of defense. The voice of the walrus 
is a barking noise; but in impending danger it turns 
into a hideous howling. 

The period of gestation is nine months, and the 
result is one. seldom two calves. The males abandon 
the females during that time, and mate again during 
the breeding season. During the summer, Murchison 
Sound is inhabited by females as was well shown 


by our hunting, which resulted in seventeen females 
and only one male, and he was a very young one. 

The walrus feeds on crustaceae, especially on 
mussels found in shallow water, and, according to 
Mahn, Browns and Green, they also eat sea-plants, 
especially the my a truncata and saxicacava rugosa. 

The internal anatomy of the walrus is very sim- 
ilar to that of the narwhal, described above, and as 
shown by numerous dissections made on board the 


Saturday, August i2th, was devoted to walrus 
killing, as Commander Peary was desirous of increas- 
ing his stock of food for the natives and dogs, that 
were to accompany him on his intended trip to the 
north pole. Both the Eskimos and their dogs are 
hearty eaters, and to get good work out of them they 
must be well fed, hence this wise precaution to 
supply them with an abundance of good food. Mur- 
chison Sound, the favorite haunt and feeding ground 
of these animals, was selected for the hunt. The 
weather was all that could be desired, calm sea and 
much of the time bright sunshine. The numerous 
icebergs and pans of pack-ice made it probable that 
the hunt would be a successful one. The Eskimo 
knows all that can be learned concerning the habits 
of the walrus and the best manner of hunting it. A 
long experience has taught him to construct from 
the simplest materials the most ingenious of his 
primitive weapons the harpoon. 

The mechanism of the whole hunting outfit for 


walrus and seal is simply perfect. The harpoon is 
made in three parts. The point is a piece of ivory, 
three to four inches in length, tipped with a sharp, 
triangular piece of metal and its base is hollowed 
out to fit the larger ivory point of the shaft. This 
larger ivory point is fastened to the wooden part 
of the shaft, which is about six feet long, with two 
cords of walrus hide, making a jointed connection, 
so that after the harpoon has struck the animal the 
shaft at this point bends automatically, thus facili- 
tating the detachment of the shaft from the point 
which has penetrated the flesh of the animal. A 
strong line of walrus hide, about 100 feet long, is 
fastened to the center of the harpoon point, and to 
the opposite end is tied an inflated sealskin which 
looks like a small balloon. 

The walrus line is arranged carefully in a loose 
coil, so that it unravels readily when the harpoon is 
thrown, and with a view of detracting as little as 
possible from the force with which the weapon is 
thrown. The seal skin balloon, floating on the water 
when the animal is near enough its surface, enables 
the hunter to pursue his game for hours if necessary ; 
and the dragging of the balloon, when under water, 
increases the exertions of the animal and brings it 
sooner under submission. 

The Smith Sound Eskimos have added to the 
line another contrivance calculated to tire out the 
harpooned walrus in the shortest possible space of 
time. It consists of a shallow wooden box, a foot 
and a half square, the inside center of which is con- 
nected with an additional rawhide cord fastened 


to the main line nearer the harpoon point than the 
balloon. The dragging of this box through the 
water is done at the expense of a great deal of 
strength on the part of the wounded animal. Before 
the use of firearms, the natives pursued the animals 
by means of these most ingenious mechanical con- 
trivances until they were exhausted to an extent 
which made them harmless, or nearly so, during the 
last encounter, when the hunter approached near 
enough to secure his game by a thrust of his lance. 

The walrus is not a gamy animal and, when the 
hunter is armed with a large caliber repeating rifle, 
the harpooned animal has but little show for his life. 
As a rule, at least two Eskimos, in their kayaks, 
sneak up to the sleeping or unwary lazy animal 
on his bed of floating ice until within throwing dis- 
tance, about forty feet, of the deadly harpoon, when it 
is thrown with sufficient force to penetrate the thick, 
leathery skin. If the point does not strike any of 
the superficial bones, it enters deep enough to gain 
a firm hold from which the animal never can release 
itself, as the weight of the shaft and traction of the 
line bring the detached point into a cross position 
to the wound in the skin. The sleeping or unsuspi- 
cious animal, so suddenly awakened to reality, now 
plunges head foremost into the water, disappears from 
the surface, but is soon made to experience that 
swimming has become more laborious as it drags the 
balloon after it in its flight away from the enemy. 
The balloon disappears soon after the animal makes 
its plunge for safety; but, as it can only remain under 
water for about ten minutes, the float soon makes 


its appearance again. A little later, the ugly head 
of the infuriated animal is seen a short distance 
ahead of it, and after a few seconds disappears again 
to seek safety from the pursuing foe in the depth of 
the water. 

The hunter has no difficulty in following his 
game, because the balloon indicates its course. As 
many of the Eskimos are now supplied with fire 
arms, the old way of hunting seal and walrus has 
been abandoned, and is only made use of when the 
ammunition gives out. They greatly prefer the 
rifle to the lance in killing the harpooned walrus, as 
the new way of hunting requires less time, is attended 
by less danger, and brings more game. The shoot- 
ing is done at short range, and the only fatal spot 
is the neck, about six inches behind the rudimentary 
external ear. If the bullet strikes this spot the 
animal is killed at once by the severing of the spinal 

Now the balloon serves another very important 
purpose. The dead walrus sinks almost the moment 
life is extinct. The balloon offers sufficient resist- 
ance to keep the carcass suspended in the water. 
The Eskimo tows the dead animal to the landing- 
place by fastening the line to the rear end of his 

On the day of our walrus-hunt we picked up as 
many as four animals at one time, the floats marking 
their location. These enormous beasts, which on 
an average weigh a ton, were hauled on deck of our 
steamer by steam-power. The animal is brought 
alongside of the ship, and a sailor in a rowboat 


makes two parallel cuts in the skin on the back part 
of the neck, four to six inches apart. This bridge 
of skin is then undermined for the insertion of a 
strong iron hook at the end of a rope worked by the 
crane, which then lifts the carcass high into the air 
and swings it on deck. The thick, rough gray 
skin appears like a huge bag, too large for its flabby 
contents. The killing during our walrus-hunt was 
done, exclusively by shooting, and the natives did 
most of it. The Eskimo hunter is a good marks- 
man and always averse to wasting ammunition. 
He knows the fatal spot and only shoots at very 
close range to make sure of his work with the rifle. 
The white men who took part in the hunt went in 
rowboats manned by natives, the expert har- 
poonists and hunters used their kayaks. Some 
of the animals were harpooned before they were 
killed; others were killed on the ice or swimming, 
and then were harpooned to keep them from sinking. 
The wounded walrus, when closely pursued, 
expresses distress and fear by a terrible noise which 
can be heard at a considerable distance. It is a 
kind of bellowing, a compromise between the mooing 
of a cow and the deepest baying of a mastiff. This 
bellowing is repeated seven or eight times in rapid 
succession. Several of our wounded animals gave 
us an opportunity to familiarize ourselves with the 
strange voice of this great sea animal when in agony 
with pain and fear. One of the harpooned animals, 
which was pursued for a long time before it was 
killed, was a female accompanied by its infant, 
which clung to its mother until life was extinct and 



the ship arrived to haul the carcass on deck. The 
native hunters took a lively interest in this day's 
work and several times as many as ten kayaks and 
two rowboats were out at the same time. 

While walrus-hunting cannot be regarded in the 
light of a sport, it affords an interesting spectacle 
for the one who witnesses it for the first time. It is 
a sea battle in which the Eskimos display their skill 
and cunning as hunters of this huge beast of the sea. 
The largest herd we came across this day was 
collected on a large pan of ice and numbered about 
fifty. This herd was left undisturbed until after 
supper. It was the intention to surround it and 
attack it from all sides. The animals, however, 
were more wary than usual, and, when the attack 
was made, disappeared before they came within 
reach of the harpoon and guns. Desultory firing 
took place in different places as the animals ap- 
peared here and there on the surface. Several were 
wounded but none were secured. When we left 
Murchison's Sound, we had on deck seventeen wal- 
rus, all females except one, one seal, making a small 
mountain of flesh and blubber to serve as food for 
natives and their dogs on the "Roosevelt," during 
her trip to the farthest North. 

A number of Eskimo boys at once commenced 
to skin and dismember the carcasses. As every 
walrus contains nearly a barrel full of blood, the 
scene that followed can be better imagined than 
described. As the young butchers proceeded with 
their work, the deck became flooded with grease 
and steaming blood. The boys in their sealskin 


boots, were ankle deep in this slippery mixture. 
The more than a hundred snarling, fighting dogs 
dragged the entrails in all directions. Each of them 
determined to get his liberal share of this, to them, 
their greatest delicacy. 

Men, women, and children waded through the 
pools of blood and scattered it all over the deck. 
The dogs were smeared with blood, grease, and filth, 
and this, together with the thirty tons of coal still 
on deck, will give some idea of the discomforts of 
deck-life during this part of our trip. I have en- 
countered all kinds 6f bad smells and thought that 
I could bear everything in that line without disturb- 
ing my stomach, but now the stench had grown in 
intensity to such a degree that I had to apply a hand- 
kerchief to the nose when I went on the bridge to 
breathe fresh air. Even the bridge, the cleanest 
spot on deck, had become slippery with blood and 
grease, carried there by the shoes and boots of those 
who sought refuge here. The little skylight in the 
ceiling of my cabin looked like a big ruby. As the 
galley was in the filthiest part of the deck, the steward 
and cook had to wade through blood, grease, and 
filth every time they went to and from the kitchen. 

Such was life on the "Erik" until we got rid of 
the undesirable part of the cargo on our arrival at 
Etah. Etah is about sixty miles north of Point 
Iglunaksuak, the northern coast limit of Murchison's 
Sound. We left the sound at two o'clock in the 
morning, and, in sailing along the coast, were con- 
stantly in sight of the great ice-cap and passed 
glacier after glacier, intercepted by rugged towering 


capes. The scenery along this part of the west 
coast of Greenland is inspiring in its grandeur and 

At nine o'clock, Sunday morning, August i3th, 
with the sun high above the lofty mountains, we 
rounded Cape Kenrick and soon entered Foulke 
Fiord, where we found the "Roosevelt" at anchor 
near the shore, within a very short distance of 
the ancient Eskimo settlement, Etah. It was a 
pleasing sight to see the staunch little steamer 
destined to find the north pole, flying the stars and 
stripes from the topmast, peacefully moored in the 
quiet waters of Foulke Fiord, where so many arctic 
explorers had found rest and shelter in the past. 

It was here where the last preparations were to 
to be made for the final hazardous journey to the 
farthest North. The first news we received from 
the "Roosevelt" was to the effect that soon after 
her arrival a fire broke out on board. It was in 
Captain Bartlett's cabin. In some unexplainable 
way the bag containing most of his clothing caught 
fire. The smoke issuing from the cabin, was soon 
discovered, and no further damage was done than 
the loss of the contents of the bag. The dogs 
were at once taken on shore, which cleared the ship 
of the most disagreeable part of her cargo. The 
deck was flushed, the walrus meat transferred to 
the "Roosevelt," and the hides salted and packed 
away in the hold of the "Erik." 

Now came the difficult task of uncoaling the 
"Erik." Two life-boats were lashed together and 
covered with an improvised platform, upon which 


the coal, in bags and barrels, was ferried to the 
rocky coast and unloaded on a stony eminence 
above high-water mark. It was anticipated that 
in three or four days this work could be finished, 
but in this we were sorely disappointed. Several 
days were lost by the sea being too rough for the 
to and fro passage of the frail, extemporized barge, 
so our stay in Foulke Fiord was prolonged for ten 
days, when threatening weather announced the 
approach of winter and forced the captain to return 
with only a part of the cargo of coal on shore. 


Etah, called Etah nami by the Eskimos, is an 
important and historic point on the west coast of 
North Greenland. It is the very center of the 
arctic region and has been the winter quarters of 
a number of arctic explorers. Doctor Kane, whose 
winter quarters were only about forty miles distant 
from here, visited the settlement repeatedly during 
the winter and received much valuable aid from the 
natives. Peary and Hayes spent each one winter here. 
Etah is located in latitude 78 20' north, less than 
700 miles from the pole. It is a very ancient Es- 
kimo settlement, the most northern habitation of 
man in the world. The five igloos are located on 
the north shore of Foulke Fiord, a short distance 
from its entrance, near a turbulent rivulet which 
drains a small glacier and, with much noise and im- 
patience, rushes over the stony bed to be lost in the 
waters of the fiord. The profuse growth of grass 
in the neighborhood of the settlement, growing 
from a very scanty soil, is the best proof what fer- 
tilizers, in the form of offal and excreta, can accom- 
plish even in the coldest place on earth inhabited 
by man. 

At the head of the fiord is a similar luxuriant 
meadow marking the place, where, perhaps for cen- 
turies, the natives have lived in tents during the 
summer. Foulke Fiord is a small arm of Smith 
12 177 


Sound, hemmed in by steep mountains from 1,000 
to 3,000 feet high, the mountain wall affording pro- 
tection against north, south, and east winds. In 
the case of gales from the west, the harbor is an 
exposed one. The water is very deep, almost up 
to the very shore, and the navigator has only to 
look out for several small islands in entering the 
harbor. When we entered the fiord, snow-clad 
Cape Isabella, on the opposite side of Smith Sound 
twenty-three miles away, in the pure, rare arctic air, 
appeared to be only a few miles distant, and Cape 
Sabine, Greely's winter quarters to the northwest, 
was plainly in sight. The whole coast of kllesmere 
Land, of which the two capes are the most con- 
spicuous landmarks, was buried under ice and snow. 
It is in Smith Sound, which separates Greenland 
from Ellesmere Land, that the polar current along 
the coast of the latter is very rapid, about eight 
miles an hour, and seldom free from icebergs and 
pack-ice. It is in this body of water that the navi- 
gators are prepared to battle with ice. We found 
no natives at Etah. They had evidently located 
somewhere else for the summer hunting. A number 
of tents were soon erected on shore and were occu- 
pied by a few families who were to remain here during 
the winter, forming the base of Commander Peary's 
present expedition. 


The Smith Sound Eskimos, including all the 
settlements from Cape York to Etah, have come in 
closer touch with the explorers than those of any 
other part of Greenland; for this body of water is 
the principal and most favored gateway to the 
farthest North. Captain Ross called them the 
"Highlanders of Greenland." They live in almost 
complete isolation, having had little communication 
with the natives farther south, or with those on the 
American Continent, and with the outside world 
only through expeditions for the north pole or an 
occasional visit from a whaler. The latter source 
of intercourse has almost ceased, as the whales have 
migrated to more inaccessible waters. Before ex- 
plorers visited this part of the world, the natives 
lived in a most primitive way. Their weapons and 
sledges were made of ivory and bone. Wood and 
iron were unknown to them until the white man 
visited them. These two articles are appreciated 
by them, now, more than any other. From time 
to time, they have also been supplied with the most 
necessary implements knives, needles and scissors. 
Of the. luxuries, they have learned to appreciate 
coffee and tobacco. Their diet, clothing, and man- 
ner of living remain unchanged. The number of Eski - 
mos on this part of the Greenland coast vacillates. 
Doctor Kane estimated their number at 143. Peary, 



in 1892, visited all of the settlements and counted 
253. On this trip, we visited all of the settlements 
and their present number does not, certainly, ex- 
ceed 175. m ^ 


These strange people have no idea where they 
came from. They have not even, like most primi- 
tive races, a legend as to their origin. When ques- 
tioned on this point, they invariably point north 
without having the faintest perception of what this 
means. It is more than probable that they are the 
remnants of a once powerful race, the oldest inhab- 
itants of the western hemisphere. 

It is claimed by some that the Eskimo is akin 
to the American Indian, and, consequently, of the 
same origin. Food and climate might have contrib- 
uted much in changing the physical organization 
and mental state of these people during the course 
of many centuries ; but a careful study has convinced 
me that they possess many striking physical and 
mental characteristics foreign to our Indians. On 
first sight, they resemble in stature and facial outlines 
more closely the Chinese than any other race. When 
I traveled through Alaska a number of years ago, 
I made the same observation and noticed that the 
Alaska Indians take more kindly to the Chinamen 
than the Japanese or any other of the yellow races. 
I have seen no closer resemblance between any two 
people than the Buriates, in Siberia, and the Smith 
Sound Eskimos; and I feel confident that they have 
a common racial origin. 

Captain McClintock describes these people as 

Siberian tribe resembling the Esquinio 


he saw them, in 1852. "My first interview with 
these northern Eskimos was in 1852, when com- 
manding H. M. S. 'Intrepid;' then, as now, the men 
came off on the land ice to us; they appeared to me 
to be very little people, with large, flat faces and a 
sprinkling of beard and mustache, apparently in 
sound health and perfectly happy. A party of us 
walked to the land to visit their abodes and the fe- 
male population; one vociferous old hag met us at 
the beach, and seemed to be introducing us to all 
the rest, and gave us a detailed account of their 
relationships and accomplishments. There were 
three tents only; words can scarcely describe the 
filth and wretchedness of such abodes. The seal- 
skins composing the tents, and the skins of various 
sorts which served for beds and blankets, were 
scarcely half dressed, and emitted an intolerable 
effluvium, whilst the ground in every direction was 
strewed with bones and decaying animal matter. 
The dresses of the women were covered with blubber 
and soot, their faces and necks black and greasy, 
and eyes bleared from constantly superintending the 
slow process of cooking in a stone vessel over a 
smoky blubber lamp. It is, indeed, hard to realize 
their state of existence. They have no vegetable 
food whatever; neither wood, nor metal; no canoes; 
not even a bow; and yet they exist in a mean annual 
temperature of 34 below the freezing point, further 
north than any other known people, and where the 
sun is absent for one third of the year!" 

This is a fairly good pen picture of the Smith 
Sound Eskimos as they appear and live today. Sir 


Clement Markham believes these people are rem- 
nants of an ancient Siberian tribe, the Onkilon, 
having been driven out by the Tartar invasion in 
the middle ages, via New Siberian Islands. I can 
not escape the conviction that the Smith Sound 
Eskimos are direct descendants of the strong Siber- 
ian tribe known as Buriates, and that they found 
their way to this remote part of the world in con- 
sequence of persecution many centuries ago, long 
before Greenland was inundated with ice. The sim- 
ilarity of these two people in stature and facial ex- 
pression is too strong to escape conviction for one 
who has made a study of them in their own countries. 
It has also been known that the ancient stone dwell- 
ings discovered in some parts of Siberia bear a 
close resemblance to the igloos of the Eskimos. 
The affinity of the Eskimo for the Chinese was also 
well demonstrated by the actions of the little Eskimo 
girl that Mrs. Peary took home with her in 1894. 
The first thing that attracted her serious attention 
was a Chinaman she saw in the street, while the 
many new things she saw in the great city of New 
York, that usually interest children, made little 
impression on her. 


The Mongolian type of the Eskimo is pronounced. 
Obliquely set eyes are common, but not constant, 
and the obliquity is never as marked as in the Chin- 
ese and Japanese. The Eskimos are below aver- 
age size, with thick set, short legs, large head and 
chest, small, even, delicate feet and hands. The 


face is square, and flat, the molar bones prominent, 
and the lower jaw well developed. The nose is well 
shaped, often aquiline, not unusually wide, and 
nasal orifices are large. The eyes are invariably 
brown and small, meek and friendly in their ex- 
pression. The eyebrows, eyelashes, and beard, and 
mustache are scanty. The cheeks are prominent 
in many of them, more especially the children and 
young women. 

The color of the skin is slightly dusky, but less 
so than in the orientals, and that of the face has a 
slight coppery tint. The hair is jet black and straight, 
flowing loosely over the shoulders in men; tied in a 
knot behind in women. A tendency to corpulency 
is observed, even in children and young boys and 
girls. In all of them the subcutaneous fat is 
abundant and the circulation of the skin very active. 
Obesity is the Eskimo's ideal of beauty. eary 
refers to a woman four and a half feet in height who 
weighed 300 pounds and who, by general consent, 
was acknowledged by the men as the beauty of the 
tribe. The women are much smaller than the men; 
the average height of the former does not exceed 
five feet, and of the latter five and a half feet. 

To the foreigner, the most enviable parts of the 
anatomy of the Eskimo are his hair and teeth. The 
growth of the hair of the scalp is luxuriant, and 
even time deals gently with it, as it does, not turn 
gray until advanced age, and then the change from 
black to white is a very slow one. I failed to find 
even indications of baldness in any of the Smith 
Sound Eskimos. Captain McClintock met with 


one bald Eskimo by the name of Kallek, whom he 
considered as a remarkable case among the natives 
with whom he came in contact. He lived in isola- 
tion with three families, near Lancaster Sound, 
and had come to Greenland over the ice with dog 

The teeth of the Eskimos are simply perfect as 
perfect as in the only domestic animal they know 
and own the dog. They are regular and, in the 
young, of a pearly whiteness. Caries and toothache 
are unknown. I examined the mouths of a number 
of Eskimos over sixty years of age without finding 
a single tooth missing; every tooth was present and 
firm. The only perceptible change the teeth had 
undergone was a gradual wearing away, from pro- 
longed usage, until the crown projected but slightly 
above the firm, healthy gums. 

Female beauty must not be looked for here, 
although Peary, in his book, reproduces the photo- 
graph of one who is perhaps entitled to this claim. 
Regular features among women are the rare excep- 
tions. Beauty, however, is a relative term, as what 
one considers a beautiful face another calls homely; 
and it is well it should be so in the very nature of 
things. A distinguished poet says: 

"Beauty is nothing else but a just accord and 
mutual harmony of the members, animated 
by a healthful constitution." Dryden. 

All of the Eskimo women are certainly splendid 
specimens of a healthful constitution, and their soft 
brown eyes, pearly teeth, and luxuriant black hair 
contribute much to their charms. The average 



unprejudiced observer, however, would say of the 
majority of them: 

"When the candles are out all women are fair.". 

In favor of these women, it must be said that 
they do not sail under false colors; they appear as 
they are, natural, even in the presence of strangers. 

"We found her dressed without gold or trinkets 
as ladies who are dressed only for themselves, 
set off with no female paints and pastes.". 

The women dress the skins, dry and raw, by 
chewing to render them pliable and soft, a neither 
pleasant nor easy task, but one which they perform 
with patience and perseverance. The teeth are, for 
the Eskimo, a veritable third hand, as the women 
use them in removing from the skins all muscle and 
adipose tissue; and the men always employ them in 
tying knots, relying upon them more than on the 
hands in determining the force necessary to tie the 
knots securely. The men are strong, but not noted 
for prolonged physical endurance. Most of their 
work is done in kayaks and on sledges, limiting the 
exercise largely to the upper extremities, which 
may explain the shortness of the legs as compared 
with the upper extremities. The chest is unusually 
well developed; a fact which admits of the same 

The breathing power of these people is remark- 
able, approaching almost that of their dogs. I 
have seen, repeatedly, during my hunting expedi- 
tions men ascend the steepest mountain to a height 


of one to three thousand feet in a continuous run 
without showing the least embarrassment of breath- 
ing. As the Eskimos have always lived largely on 
raw flesh and make frequent use of their teeth in 
their daily vocations, the lower jaw of men and 
women is large and strong, adding its large share 
to the characteristic physiognomy flatness and 
angularity of the face. They do not use oil either 
for the hair or surface of the body. Combs are un- 
known, and the hair is kept from matting by separ- 
ating and smoothing it with the hands. The ab- 
sence of baldness is undoubtedly due to the free 
exposure of the hairy scalp during the summer and 
the wearing of a loose hood during winter. 

In contrasting the Eskimo with the American 
Indian, the difference is to be found less in their 
physical and physiognomic features than the disparity 
of their mental status and peculiarities. 


The Eskimo is a child throughout life, contented, 
happy, free of care, and delights in childish sports. 
His habits and conditions are hardly above those 
of animals. His only concern is the food he eats 
and the clothes he must wear to protect himself 
against the rigor of the climate he lives in. He is 
intelligent, ingenious and thoroughly humane. Jeal- 
ousy and selfishness affect him less than the ma- 
jority of human kind. He is hospitable to a fault, 
and, as a rule, honest in his dealings with his own 
kind and the strangers with whom he comes in con- 


The physical aspects and physiognomy of all 
Indians are very much the same from Alaska to 
Patagonia, influenced of course by climate, diet, 
occupation, and habits. The face of the Indian is 
stoic and expressive of a surly, unsympathetic 
earnestness, sorrow, and even melancholy. Under 
ordinary circumstances, the facial expression re- 
mains fixed. The lower in the social scale, the more 
indifferent and inexpressive becomes the facial mirror 
as a reflector of the soul. Not long after the dis- 
covery of the new world, owing to reports made by 
the early explorers, the question arose whether or 
not the Indians belonged to the human race. This 
doubt was settled in the affirmative, by a papal 
decree, in 1537. The Indian is not, nor will he ever 
be, an equal of the Caucasian race in mental qual- 
ities, and his general intelligence is inferior to that 
of the Eskimo. His special senses, like those of 
the Eskimo, are extremely acute animal-like; but 
his reasoning power is slower and more limited than 
that of the Eskimo. 

In courage, the Indian is far above the Eskimo. 
He is revengeful and proud, while the Eskimo is 
innocent, peaceful, meek and friendly. The Indian 
has no fear of death; the Eskimo loves his land, his 
home, and his people too dearly to take unnecessary 
chances on his life, and the life after death has no 
charms for him. The Eskimo dreads the word 
"sinipo" (death), and avoids this word whenever 
he can, and speaks of the departed as having gone 
far away, and not as having died; while the Indian 
believes them to be in the enjoyment of a better 


and happier life in a land teeming with the choicest 
game. This aversion to death and to the very use 
of the word is not of recent origin, but was well 
known to the early explorers. 

Captain McClintock, in meeting some Eskimos 
in Boothia, relates the following: "I inquired after 
the man who was furnished with a wooden leg by 
the carpenter of the 'Victory;' no direct answer was 
given, but his daughter was pointed out to me. 
Petersen explained to me that they did not like 
alluding in any way to the dead; and that, as my 
question was not answered, it was certain the man 
was no longer among the living." Members of our 
party had the same experience when they inquired 
about men whom they knew and who were not found 
among the living. All the information that could 
be obtained was a wave of the hand, indicating that 
they had gone far away. 

Another mental peculiarity of the Eskimo is, 
that he does not like to be cross-examined on any 
particular point. Making one statement he con- 
siders sufficient, and, when not understood, he soon 
becomes out of patience and will refuse being ques- 
tioned any further. The childlike nature of the 
Eskimo is best shown by his thoughtlessness and 
disregard for the future. He trusts to luck or 
chance in all things. The Indian, lazy as he may 
be, has some concern for the future, and makes pro- 
vision for the same. He cures meat by drying, and 
stores it away during the hunting season to last him 
in the time of want. The Eskimo is not as far- 
sighted, and has no idea of economy in times of 



plenty. The Indian is moderate in eating; the 
Eskimo is a veritable glutton as long as he can find 
something to eat. The amount of food an Eskimo 
can dispose of exceeds belief. We saw many in- 
stances of this kind on board the "Erik," where 
the Eskimos were supplied with food from the galley. 
Their favorite dish was pork, and the amount they 
consumed was fabulous. I observed a little girl 
gorging herself with salted pork and then she went 
to the water tank and drank at least two quarts of 
water without any ill results following. She at once 
laid down on the deck and slept for hours without 
waking, and the next day showed no decrease in 
her appetite. 

I will let Capt. Parry speak on this subject: "To 
the capacity of an Eskimo's stomach there seems 
scarcely any limit. Some experiments on the subject 
made in the 'Fury,' and carefully noted, produced the 
most surprising results. A youth named Toolooak 
stands recorded as having, in twenty-one hours, 
received into his stomach ten pounds four ounces 
of solid food, a gallon and a pint of water, with more 
than a pint of soup. Captain Lyon pitched against 
him Kangara, who, in nineteen hours, finished nine 
pounds fifteen ounces of solid, and a gallon and a 
half of fluid." Most of the meat is eaten raw. They 
cut it in long strips, introduce one end in the mouth, 
swallow it as far as the powers of deglutition allow, 
and then cut off the protruding portion close to the 
lips and repeat the same act until they can eat no 
more. The Eskimo has no regular hours for meals. 
He, like animals, eats when he is hungry and his 


stomach appeased, he lies down and sleeps. Courage, 
defiance of death, the most conspicuous traits of the 
character of the Indian, are at low ebb with the 
Eskimo. Under no circumstances will he make use 
of his kayak in rough weather. He values his life 
too dearly to battle with a rough sea. We cannot 
say of him: 

"A braver choice of dauntless spirits 
Did never float upon the swelling tide." 

He could not be made to believe that 
"To die is landing on some silent shore, 
Where billows never break, nor tempests roar; 
Ere we feel the friendly stroke, 'tis o'er. " 


His occupations are few to procure food and 
clothing. He is satisfied with little and has abso- 
lutely no inclination to acquire either wealth or 
influence. His temper is never ruffled, even in the 
face of want. He leads a tranquil life, free of all 
care and worry, the very ideal of a happy life. 

"Let thine occupations be few, saith the sage, 
if thou would'st lead a tranquil life." Marcus 


"Remember this, that very little is needed 
to make a happy life." Idem. 

When he has plenty he never thinks of the future, 
but eats and eats until he can eat no more, and by 
doing so confirms the truth of the old saying: 

"The appetite of the belly and the throat are 
so far from diminishing in men by time that 
they go on increasing." Cicero. 



The Eskimo is 

"Born for the gratification of his appetite, 
and no.t for the acquisition of glory and honor.'! 

When want and starvation stare him in the face, 
he is patient and uncomplaining. The improvident 
nature of the Eskimo is responsible for much suffer- 
ing and many deaths from starvation. Doctor 
Kane relates that, in 1830, the boat-crews from a 
whaler, which had escaped the many disasters of 
that year, landed at the Cape York Eskimo settle- 
ment. They were surprised as they approached 
the tents, to find no beaten snow-tracks about the 
entrance nor any indications of the presence of 
human beings. The riddle was explained when they 
lifted up the skin curtain that served the double 
purpose of door and window. Grouped around an 
oilless lamp, in the attitudes of life, were four or five 
human corpses, with darkened lips and sunken eye- 
balls, but all else preserved in perennial ice. The 
frozen dog lay beside his frozen master, and the 
infant, stark and stiff, in the reindeer hood which 
enveloped the frozen mother. Some three or four 
neighboring huts presented the same ghastly sights 
in their icy interior. Starvation, during an unusu- 
ally severe winter, was undoubtedly the cause of the 
complete annihilation of the entire population of the 
settlement. This is only one of the many catas- 
trophes which have decimated the Smith Sound 
Eskimos, and brought on, in most instances, by the 
improvidence of the natives. 

The Eskimo is kind and affectionate. Toward 


his family, relatives, friends, and strangers, he is 
liberal. As long as a piece of blubber is in the camp, 
no one suffers. Widows, orphans, the sick, the 
aged, and the crippled are well taken care of and are 
given their full share of food and clothing. 

The Eskimo has a good memory for faces, local- 
ities, and incidents. He is ingenious and, like the 
Chinese, a good imitator. Many of them can make 
a good sketch of their coast line and can draw rude 
representations of the animals which frequent their 
coast. Their sense of beauty is blunted. They 
have no appreciation, whatever, of the beauties of 
nature. I have never seen one of them pick a flower 
or pay any attention to the beautiful flora of their 
otherwise dreary country. 


The social life of the Smith Sound Eskimos is 
the simplest of all the peoples I have seen in many 
parts of the world and under the most varying 
climatic conditions. These people, reduced in num- 
ber to less than 200 at the present time, living in 
small settlements along the coast from Cape York 
to Etah, have no government of any kind. They 
constitute a family rather than a tribe, having every- 
thing in common. The inhabitants of the settle- 
ments, seldom exceeding twenty-five persons, living 
in from two to five igloos or as many tents, lead an 
ideal social life, with no laws to restrain their con- 
duct toward others depending entirely on the 
dictates of their conscience. 

Here is one of the best places to study human 




nature uninfluenced by civilization ; to study the con- 
duct of man, who recognizes no government and has 
never experienced the force of law. Here is a 
people that has neither a national nor tribal govern- 
ment; a people whose will is supreme and governs 
all of their affairs. Real estate an'd personal prop- 
erty are unknown. They lead a nomadic life and 
erect their igloos and pitch their tents wherever the 
prospects for successful hunting are most promising. 

Their only needs .are food and clothing. This 
is a part of the world free from politics, and a place 
where the value of money is unknown. These 
Eskimos have no written language, and their thoughts 
are expressed in not more than 300 words. The 
tranquillity of these communities is not disturbed 
by the voice of steam, the ticking of the telegraph, 
the ringing of the telephone, or the reading of the 
daily news. The excitement of elections, grafts, 
insurance scandals, and bank failures have never 
disturbed the calmness of the Eskimo mind. 

The lazy ones enjoy the benefits of the labor of 
the more active and no complaints are made. As 
there is no property ownership, stealing is out of 
the question. They borrow, but they cannot steal. 
Some of the early explorers accused these Eskimos 
of stealing, a charge which was undoubtedly well 
founded at that time; but, on the whole, they are 
honest. On our entire trip not a single act of dis- 
honesty was discovered. Many times I dealt out 
little presents, and in almost every instance the 
recipient, by motions, wanted to know if I intended 
him to keep it a very good indication of honesty. 



The low grade of thinking power is best shown 
by the lack of foresight in making adequate pro- 
vision for the future, and the limited vocabulary 
of the language. The natives of the South Sea 
Islands have no need of storehouses, as nature favors 
that climate to such an extent that the fruit and 
fish supply never fails in furnishing them with an 
abundance of food every day throughout the year. 
This is not the case in Greenland. The best hunt- 
ing season here is in early spring when the ice breaks, 
and seal and walrus come to the coast in great herds 
during the breeding season, after which most of 
them leave and migrate farther north. At the time 
we were at North Star Bay, the best hunting season 
was long past, and in visiting the settlement, con- 
sisting of about twenty-five persons, we found only 
a very small amount of meat left, and there were 
thirty dogs picketed there, howling for something 
to eat. The reindeer had left that part of the coast, 
at least for a time; hares were few; ptarmigan none; 
seal few; the walrus gone; the powder supply for 
old muzzle-loading guns had given out and it is 
hard to tell what those poor people would have done, 
without outside help, to keep them from starving 
during the coming winter, so near at hand. Had 
these people realized the uncertainty of their food 
supply, they would have preserved meat when it 
was plentiful; but they missed that opportunity and 
were then facing want. The squirrel buries nuts 
in the fall to last during the winter, but these chil- 
dren of the North live without any forethought, 
without realizing the uncertainties of the future. 




Centuries of hardships have not succeeded in im- 
pressing upon them the truth of 

"The more we deny ourselves the gods supply 
our wants." Horatius. 

Childlike, they 

"Shun to seek what is hid in the womb of 
the morrow, and set down as gain in life's ledg- 
er whatever time fate shall have granted thee.'l 

The lack of anything like a good mental capacity 
is also shown by the poverty of the vocabulary of 
their language. The language, called Karalit, is a 
synthetic one, made up of few words. The pro- 
nunciation of some of the words is exceedingly diffi- 
cult, and it is almost impossible to represent them 
correctly in our letters. This is why the different 
explorers who remained long enough with the natives 
to acquire their language, do not spell the words 
alike, as they had to be guided entirely by sound 
in repi ^ducing them in our letters. For things new 
to the Eskimo, such as are brought to them by 
foreigners, they are incorporating English words 
in their language. The guttural sounds, of which 
there are many, require special training of the phar- 
ynx and tongue. The same word differently pro- 
nounced may mean many different things. In 1851, 
Egede Kleinschmidt put the language in gram- 
matical form, a task which required much labor and 
an intimate knowledge of the language. 

It is very fortunate that, so far, the natives have 
had but few opportunities to tempt them to indulge 
in alcoholic liquors. In the Danish settlements, 


the sale of intoxicating drinks is strictly prohibited 
by law. From what I have seen of the Eskimos 
of this part of Greenland, I am confident, that, if 
given a chance, they would equal the Indians in 
their love for liquor, and that the results of such 
indulgence would be equally disastrous. 

The marriage ties are very elastic. Virtue, as 
we interpret this word, does not exist among the 
Eskimos. As the husband has to supply the family 
with food and fur, for clothing and bedding, he finds 
it difficult to support more than one wife and a 
limited number of children; hence polygamy, al- 
though not considered wrong, is seldom practised. 
I saw only two men, both of them on the shady side 
of life, who took pride in the fact that each of them 
had two wives. The only requirement exacted of 
a young man who wants to take a wife is to be a 
good hunter, a practical proof that he can take care 
of himself and family and not become a burden on 
the community in which he lives. If he has killed 
big game, a polar bear or a walrus, his way to the 
wedded state is an easy one. Long courtships are 
superfluous. Kissing, even among lovers, is un- 
known. Touching with the tip of noses is here in 
vogue instead of kissing, and is the expression of 
the most tender feeling the Eskimo knows of. When 
a young man makes up his mind to find a mate, he 
selects his bride from the available material and, if 
she consents, he takes her to his igloo or tent without 
any previous ceremony whatever. After this kind 
of mating, he supplies her with the necessities of 
life, and she, in return, makes and mends his clothes, 

Akatingua, Otero, Avarme 


dresses the fur, and attends to the oil-lamp and 
whatever little cooking there is to be done. No 
promises are made, consequently none can be broken. 
Occasionally the event is celebrated by chanting 
the monotonous native song and an extra ration of 
blubber. If two suitors have their eyes on the same 
girl, the matter is settled in her presence by a con- 
test of strength. They lock elbows, and the one 
who straightens out the forearm of the other is the 
winner and claims the bride. What counts much 
in the estimation of the girl is skill and success in 
hunting, and, as the best hunter is usually the strong- 
est, the result of the test is acceptable to her. Such 
contests are simply a repetition of the old, old story : 

"Why, the weakest always goes to the wall." 

The test is a fair one and the choice of a mate 
is decided without bloodshed or even an ill-feeling. 
If the sea of married life becomes boisterous, the 
husband brings back his wife to where she came 
from; but, in this event, he is expected to do some- 
thing toward her future support, usually by pre- 
senting to her family a kayak or an equivalent in 
fur, until she is mated again. The marriage, or as 
it should be termed here, mating, is not necessarily 
meant for life. The husband regards his wife as 
his property to be disposed of as he deems for his 
best interest. The woman is not the equal of her 
husband. She is always subordinate to his will. 
Captain Ross, in 1830, found matrimonial affairs 
about the same as they exist today. "Their mat- 
rimonial arrangements are more singular, and in 


some points more exceptionable, than could 
naturally have been expected. Convenience and 
interest seem the ruling motives. More culpable 
accommodations are sometimes procured by polyg- 
amy, even in the form of two men having one wife 
and by an exchange of wives, either permanent or 
temporary." It is not at all uncommon for men 
to exchange wives for a year at the annual gather- 
ing in the spring at Petrowik, near Murchison's 
Sound. It is generally understood that this ar- 
rangement should only last a year, but sometimes 
this change proves so satisfactory to one of the 
male parties that he refuses to take back his former 
spouse. This was the case with My a, one of the 
best looking and most intelligent men we met at 
North Star Bay. A few years ago he made such a 
trade; but when the time expired, at the end of the 
year, he refused to give up his friend's wife for his 
own, well satisfied that the other fellow got the worst 
of the bargain. As he was the stronger of the two, 
there was nothing left for the other man to do but 
to be content with the new arrangement forced upon 
him by his superior. The woman in question came 
on board with two little children and an infant in 
her hood. She was anything but a beauty, but 
must have possessed qualities which commended 
her to her new alliance which the first one lacked. 
*- Things that agitate our divorce courts were settled 
here in the simplest possible way and without any 
sensationalism. Both husband and wife appeared 
to be happy and were about the best dressed per- 
sons in the tribe. Even this delicate and somewhat 


unusual affair in the tribe did not ferment any 
trouble. The weaker submitted to the stronger and 
harbored no ill feeling, much less revenge. The 
Eskimo loves family life. If he is absent only for 
a few days on a hunting expedition and his wife, 
for any reason, cannot accompany him, he takes 
the wife of one of his neighbors with him and brings 
her back at the end of the trip, and such acts do not 
disrupt friendship or good feeling. 

"How many things, both just and unjust, are 
sanctioned by custom." Terrence. 

The peaceful disposition is one of the most prom- 
inent virtues of the Eskimo. Quarrels and fights 
are almost unknown. I never heard an angry word 
or saw an angry mien during the whole time I had 
an opportunity to observe this interesting people. 
Troubles of some sort or another will arise in any 
community. As there is no such thing as exclusive 
ownership of property, as marital relations are dealt 
with so leniently, and rum plays no figure in the 
community, questions of serious dispute seldom 
arise. If they do, the oldest man of the tribe acts as 
judge, lawyer and jury, and his decision is always 
respected and final, This peaceful disposition and 
submission to custom are in direct contrast with 
the inner life of most of the primitive races. 

Murder and robbery are extremely uncommon. 
A few well authenticated instances of murder, how- 
ever, have occurred. When Captain McClintock 
arrived at Cape York, he came face to face with a 
real Eskimo murderer. "Petersen pointed out to 
me a stout fellow, with tolerable sprinkling of 


beard and mustache. This worthy perpetrated the 
only murder which has taken place for several years 
in the tribe. He disliked his victim and stood in 
need of his dogs; therefore, he killed the owner and 
appropriated his property! Such motives and pas- 
sions usually govern the unsophisticated children 
of nature; yet, as savages, the Eskimos may be con- 
sidered exceedingly harmless." Peary relates a 
case of murder on Saunder's Island. One of the 
men wanted the w r ife of another and he obtained 
her possession by pushing the man off a cliff into the 
sea when they were engaged in gathering birds' eggs. 
The couple are both alive and apparently happy at 
the present time. 

Infanticide is, on the contrary, not uncom- 
mon. Doctor Kane knew of a young couple, at Etah, 
who buried their first child alive in the winter of 
1855. Even now, it is customary, when a mother 
dies with an infant in her hood, to strangle the latter 
after her death and bury it under the same pile of 
stones with the mother. The popular impression 
still prevails that the infant must accompany its 
mother into the other world. The war spirit has 
never dominated this race. Years ago, when their 
country was invaded by Eskimos from Baffin's Land, 
they made but little resistance, seeking safety in 

In speaking of the Eskimos living in the Danish 
settlements, Doctor Kane makes the statement that, 
before the missionaries came, murder, incest, burial 
of the living, and infanticide were not numbered 
among crimes. 



Every race has its own sports and amusements 
influenced by temperament, climate, and social con- 
ditions. Athletic exercises and mental diversion are 
well calculated to keep body and mind in a health- 
ful, active condition, 

"Encourage such innocent amusements as may 
disembitter the minds of men and make them 
rejoice in the land agreeable satisfaction." 

The South Sea Islanders have their water sports; 
the Indians, lacrosse. The Eskimo, who does not 
see the sun from October i4th to February i4th, 
is especially in need of active exercise and diversion, 
as the intense cold and the absence of the chemical 
actinic, and physiological effects of the magic rays 
of the sun make the arctic night very depressing, 
physically and mentally. Wrestling, jumping, track- 
ing by the fingers or with locked arms, pushing heel 
to heel in sitting posture, dealing and receiving alter- 
nate blows on the left shoulder, and carrying heavy 
stones are among their trials of strength. 

I saw a number of wrestling matches and they 
reminded me very much of what I saw of this sport 
in Japan. Kayaking is the great national sport. 
The art of managing a kayak is acquired during 
early childhood and the ambition of every boy is 
to master it at an early age, to excel his play- 
mates, and soon to become a peer to his father. 
These aquatic sports are very exciting, as the kayakers 
test speed and all kinds of rapid maneuvers, includ- 
ing jumping over the kayak of one of the contest- 


ants. The breaking in of new dogs to sledge duty 
and practising with the long dog-whip afford health- 
ful bodily exercise. The light-hearted, care-free 
Eskimo ought to be fond of play and sport. During 
the summer the warm sunshine, the blue sky, the 
frolic of myriads of sea-fowl on water, cliffs, and in 
the air, after the depression caused by the long 
winter night, ought to rouse his soul to cheerfulness 
and merriment. Springtime, with its plentitude of 
food, when he leaves the dark, icy igloo to enter 
upon an out-of-door life in tents, should awaken a 
desire for amusement. 

Dancing is one of the pastimes of all primitive 
people, and the Eskimo is no exception. The dance 
of the Smith Sound Eskimos is the same now as it 
was centuries ago. It consists of a swaying motion 
of the body to the tune of a drum made of seal skin, 
beaten with the fingers, and accompanied by a most 
monotonous chant, consisting of a constant repeti- 
tion, of "Amna ayah," their song. The Eskimos, 
men and women, have fine voices, but their low 
degree of mentality has not taught them how to use 
them properly. In the Danish settlements, they 
have adopted a few of the simplest and most common 
European dances. 

The children amuse themselves with crude play- 
things, figures cut out of ivory, bearing a faint re- 
semblance to some of the animals which inhabit 
that region. I was very much astonished to find a 
small boy practising marksmanship with a small 
cross gun. The body of the gun was made of wood, 
the bow of bone, and the string of walrus hide. It 


was a mystery to me where the idea came from, for 
the construction of this weapon. Men and women 
are like children and enjoy their simplest plays and 
laugh heartily on the occurrence of most trivial 
incidents. They would enjoy themselves immensely 
with things that amuse and please our little children. 
But without song, without dance, without music, 
without sport, 

"The people, free from cares, serene and gay, 
Pass all their mild, untroubled hours away." 


The real national feast takes place December 
22d, every year, when the natives dance, sing, and 
eat to excess. Another national affair is the annual 
meeting of the inhabitants of all settlements at 
Petravik, near Cape Atholl, where the ice breaks up 
first in the spring, and where seal and walrus make 
their first appearance. After the hunting season 
is over, the people leave their ice igloos and in groups 
of from five to twenty-five leave for their summer 


; -"Not to know what happened before one was 

born is always to be a child." Cicero. 

Nearly every primitive people have, at least, a 
legend relating to their origin, and some hero or 
heroes who are venerated and very often worshiped. 
The Eskimos have no history, either real or legendary. 
Heroes and hero-worship are unknown here. They 
manifest no interest in the past and care nothing 
for the future. They live in the present and enjoy 


themselves the best they know how and let the 
to-morrow take care of itself. Most of them have 
only a definite idea of numbers up to five; after that 
everything is amashuali (many). Others can go as 
far as twenty, the number of fingers and toes. The 
Indian keeps track of time by the moon; but that 
clock of the sky is useless in Greenland, as it would 
come to a stand still during the four months' reign of 
the midnight sun. Their timekeeper is the breaking 
up of the ice in the spring, to them the greatest 
event of the year, as it opens the season of best hunt- 
ing for walrus and seal. The book of nature is their 
only text-book, and they study, most diligently, 
that part of it which relates to their subsistence. 

The Eskimo knows all there, is to be known con- 
cerning a practical knowledge of ice, the habits of the 
animals which serve him for food and clothing, and 
how to secure them by the simplest methods of the 
chase. The women are very skilled in the use of 
the needle, using the tendon of the narwhal as sewing 
material. The symmetry of the clothing for them- 
selves, men, and children is admirable. They dress 
the hides for clothes, boots, kayaks, and tents, 
by chewing them. 

Experiments have been made to educate them, 
but with very few exceptions, they have proved an 
absolute failure. During one of the summer trips 
to this region, Mrs. Peary brought a young Eskimo 
girl home with her. She lived one year with the 
family; but all efforts to educate her were fruitless, 
the only thing she would do was sewing, which she 
considered her only legitimate occupation. From 


the very beginning, she was homesick, and at the 
end of a year she was glad to return to her people. 
I saw this woman at North Star Bay, now living with 
her second husband, and the mother of three chil- 
dren. She was the dirtiest and wildest-looking 
woman of the tribe, but happy among her own 
people. Although she had some knowledge of the 
English language, she obstinately refused to speak 
except in the native tongue. This and similar 
instances only go to prove that: 

"Men's character and habits are not influenced 
so much by the peculiarities of family and race 
as by the physical features of their native land 
and their mode of life things by which we are 
supported and by which we live." Cicero. 


The Eskimo is not artistically inclined, and his 
talents in this direction are very limited. There is 
much here that should develop a taste for the beau- 
tiful; but the Eskimo is not receptive for anything 
else than what pertains to an animal life. The sea, 
the mountains, the valleys, rocks, and cliffs, the 
glaciers, the sailing icebergs, the exquisite little 
flowers, green grass, and moss, the rocks painted in 
all colors by minute color-producing plants, the 
myriads of birds, sailing gracefully through the air, 
the midnight sun in summer, the moon and countless 
stars during the long winter night, and the firework 
display of the aurora borealis are things and exhibits 
which should stimulate and nourish the artistic 
sense; but to all this the sharp eye of the Eskimo is 


The Japanese delight in their miniature flower 
gardens, potted flowers, and dwarfed trees; the 
Polynesian women appear tidy and attractive in 
their floral decorations; the Indian women make 
ornaments worthy of their race; but the Eskimo 
women show no appreciation, whatever, of the beau- 
tiful little flowers which ornament the tundras, 
rocks, and stony plateaus. Carving in ivory, repre- 
senting different animals, women, and children, for 
children's toys, is about the extent of art as prac- 
tised in the high North. Drawing of maps showing 
the coast line is an accomplishment of many of 
those who travel extensively. The kind of life led 
by the Eskimos is averse to art, as: 

"The inventions dictated by necessity are of an 
earlier date than those of pleasure." Cicero. 


"Nature herself has imprinted on the minds 
of all the idea of a God. For what nation or 
race of men is there that has not, even with- 
out being taught, some idea of God." Cicero. 

The Eskimos north of the Danish settlements 
have never been given the benefit of religious in- 
struction, and have no fixed ideas concerning creation 
and the existence of a living God. "They believe 
in a future world, the employments and pleasures 
of which, according to the usual creed of savage 
races are all sensual. Their idea of heaven is very 
much the same as that of the Indians. The soul 
descends beneath the earth into various abodes 
the first of which partakes somewhat the nature of 


a purgatory; but the good spirits passing through 
it find that the other mansions improve, till at a 
greater depth they reach that of perfect bliss, where 
the sun never sets, and where by the side of large 
lakes, that never freeze, the deer roam in large herds, 
and the seal and walrus always abound in the waters." 
(Parry and Lyon.) They really religion, 
no idols, no worship. Crude as their ideas are on 
this subject, they recognize the existence of a good 
and evil being. Their highest being, "Silla" (air or 
sky), is supposed to rule everything, and rewards 
man according to his actions. Other divine beings 
are "Mahina" and her brother "Alminga" (sun and 
moon), who preside over the seal hunt. 

The Eskimos are extremely superstitious and 
believe in the existence of ghosts, which manifest 
themselves in the air, fire, mountains, war, and 
storms. The mightiest of them is the good spirit, 
Torngarsuk, whose wife has the sea animals in her 
power. They do not worship their deities, and 
only observe one feast, the sun-feast, the 22nd of 
December, when they dance, sing, and eat to excess. 

Their superstition is engendered and nourished 
by sorcerers and fortune-tellers, called angakoks. 
Commander Peary, who has seen more of real Eskimo 
life than any one else, living or dead, informed me 
that it was one of the most difficult things to gain 
information from the Eskimos concerning their 
spiritual life. It is probably exceedingly difficult 
to make them understand when questioned on this 
subject and they are decidedly averse to talking 
about it. He thought it would be necessary for one 


to live among them for at least six years before he 
could speak authoritatively on this subject. If any- 
thing contrary to the wish or expectations of the 
Eskimo happens, he attributes it to an evil spirit 
which, I was told, they imagine in the form of a 
hideous being. He sharpens his knives and goes 
out to find and kill the monster. Superstition is as 
strong among these people as in all other primitive 
races, and from which many nations, which for 
centuries have lived in the light of civilization, 
cannot be excluded as: 

"Custom is almost a second nature." Plutarch. 

Among the savages, it is only natural that want 
and afflictions of all kinds should be attributed to 
some unseen mysterious evil being, whatever that 
may be called; and on the other hand, the spark of 
religion, instilled in every soul, causes man to believe 
in a supreme being who has the power to ward off 
misfortunes of all kinds and bring success, peace, 
and happiness. It is in days of darkness, misfor- 
tune, and disappointment that the soul takes flight 
to a supreme being and prays for his favor. This 
is not only true of the pagan, but also of the pro- 
fessed Christian for: 

"When we are in misery, there springs up a 
reverence of the gods; the prosperous seldom 
approach the altar." 

For want of a knowledge of a living, merciful 
Almighty God, the Eskimo, when in distress, turns 
to the spirit of his father. This is done in the form 
of a wailing, a monotonous, improvised chant, led 


by the angakok, and in which all join the chorus. 
They have no priests, no temples, no altars, no one 
to lead a regular worship. The prayer is the*spon- 
taneous outburst of the afflicted, distressed souls. 
The dark, icy igloo or the tent, devoid of everything 
that would remind one of a sacred service, is the 
meeting-place and the non-meaning words that are 
repeated over and over again are used to express the 
anguish of a soul that seeks superhuman help when 
man's efforts have proved inadequate or have utterly 


The Greenland coast of Smith Sound is made up 
of solid rock, with here and there a thin layer of 
soil, barely enough to nourish the scanty vegeta- 
tion, and nowhere deep enough to dig a grave. 
Above-ground burial is, therefore, not a matter of 
choice, but of necessity. The Eskimo graves are 
made up of a pile of stones, under which rest the* 
remains, and, under it and around it, the belongings 
of the deceased. Peary gives a good description of 
the method of burial. "The body, fully dressed, 
is laid on its back on a skin, and some extra articles 
of clothing placed upon it. It is then covered in 
with a low stone structure, to protect the body 
against the wild animals. A lamp, with some blub- 
ber, is placed close to the grave. If deceased has 
any personal property, such as weapons, kayaks, 
etc., they are also placed close by, and his favorite 
dogs, harnessed and attached to the sledge, are 
strangled to accompany him into a new land of hunt- 



ing. If it is a woman, her cooking utensils and 
frame on which she has dried the family boots and 
mittens are placed beside the grave. If she had a 
dog it is strangled to accompany her; and if she had 
a baby in the hood it, too, must die with her." 

"If the death occurred in a tent, the poles are re- 
moved, allowing it to settle down over the site, and 
it is never used again. If death occurred in an igloo, 
it is vacated and not used again for a long time." 
No ceremonies take place during the burial. The 
Eskimos appear to have little reverence for the 
places of the dead. I saw a number of graves, and 
in several of them found the bones exposed, the 
cover of stones being entirely inadequate. 

It is related that if a man dies, his wife isolates 
herself in her tent or igloo for a number of days, 
sitting statue-like, her eyes fixed on the wall oppo- 
site her. 

Doctor Kane speaks of weeping for the dead. 
"They weep according to an established custom, 
when one begins, all are expected to join, and it is 
the office of courtesy for the most distinguished of 
the company to wipe the eyes of the chief mourner. 
Failure of a hunt may bring about such a weeping 

match." _ T 


Living in a stern climate with almost half of the 
year surrounded by darkness, the Eskimo has pre- 
served his inborn cheerfulness and enjoys life better 
than most people who inhabit more favored coun- 
tries. Although he has lived in this land of per- 
petual ice and snow for unknown centuries, in almost 


complete isolation, he retains many of the physical 
characteristics of his ancient Asiatic origin. The 
intense cold, absence of sunshine six months 
out of the year, the ever-present ice and snow have 
somewhat bleached the skin, but have not succeeded 
as in some of the arctic animals, in changing the 
color of the hair from black to white. The luxuriant 
jet-black hair is the same as when these people left 
their homes in Asia and sought safety and freedom 
in their flight eastward. The color of the iris, in- 
variably a soft brown, has undoubtedly been acquired 
here in the course of centuries. 

For an unknown period of time, undoubtedly 
including the gradual transition of a sub-tropic into 
an arctic climate, these people have lived in a severe 
climate, where: 

"Instead of golden fruits 
By genial show'rs and solar heat supplied, 
Unsufferable winter hath defaced 
Earth's blooming charms and made a barren 
waste." Blackmore. 

Ever since the ocean of ice destroyed the natural 
fruit gardens of the once sub-tropic country, its in- 
habitants have lived exclusively on animal food, 
and nature has supplied them with the kind of food 
best adapted for their climate. The blubber of the 
whale, walrus, seal, and narwhal is their staple arti- 
cle of food, furnishing the system with fuel, which 
enables it to battle successfully with the intense 
cold during the long sunless winter. 

The clothing of the Eskimos has undergone a 
gradual evolution and a long experience has made 


it perfect. Although not attractive, and emitting 
an odor very offensive to one who comes in con- 
tact with their wearers for the first time, it meets 
all the indications exacted by this climate warmth 
and ventilation. Nature supplies the fur-bearing 
animals of this region with a skin and its appendages 
best calculated to resist, to a maximum degree, the 
effects of intense cold. The fur of the polar bear, 
with the hair outside, is an admirable protection 
against cold, and, as snow and ice do not cling to 
the hair, it is, therefore, chiefly used in making 
trousers for men and boys, shirts, trousers, or 
loin pieces for women and girls, and in making 
a fringe for the collar and sleeves of the jackets for 
both sexes. Sealskin jackets (kooletah) are generally 
worn during the summer; reindeer and fox skins 
during winter. The hood is an essential part of 
the jacket, and a perfect protection for head, neck 
and face. The fur of the blue fox and reindeer skins 
are the warmest, and are made into winter jackets. 
Cured bird skins are much in use for underclothing. 
The double boots (kamik), made of sealskin, 
are worn long by women, short by men. The skin 
of the outer pair is deprived of hair by scraping, the 
inner pair is worn with the hair on the inside, and the 
space between the two soles is packed with dried 
grass. No other kind of footwear is as warm and 
as comfortable as these Eskimo boots, cut and sewed 
so admirably by the women, who use the fine dried 
tendon of the narwhal, exclusively, for this purpose. 
These boots are not only warm and comfortable, 
but also absolutely water-tight. 


The sleeves of the jacket are wide, so that the 
wearer can easily withdraw the arms from them, 
and by crossing them over the chest under the gar- 
ments they receive the benefit of the body heat. 
The fur mittens are always in evidence, even during 
the warmest days in summer, a fact which may 
account for the smoothness and delicacy of hands 
and fingers in both sexes. Sox made of the skins 
of the arctic hare are often worn as an additional 
protection for the feet. From a hygienic standpoint 
the greatest merit of the Eskimo dress consists in 
the ample provisions which have been made for free 
ventilation. The collar of the jacket is wide; the 
jacket only slightly overlaps the trousers, and the 
trousers, the boots, thus securing in these places 
free, thorough ventilation. In a bending position, 
both in men and women, the body is freely exposed 
between jacket and trousers, permitting the air to 
enter and escape freely. This free ventilation pre- 
vents the accumulation of moisture within the 
clothing, an exceedingly important matter in the 
make-up of clothing in an arctic climate. Peary 
and other arctic explorers have found the Eskimo 
clothing the only one that meets the exacting re- 
quirements of that climate during the winter. With 
all their intelligence, ingenuity, study, and experi- 
ence, they have been unable to make any improve- 
ments on what the Eskimo women have devised 
and made as the result of centuries of experience. 

In their manner of living, they have instinctively 
obeyed the laws of nature in clothing and food, and 
unconsciously adapted themselves to their environ- 


ments. Food and clothing remain the same as they 
have been since they have lived here under present 
conditions. Without knowing it, they have demon- 
strated by their conduct that 

"Wisdom consists in not wandering from the 
nature of things, and in conforming ourselves 
according to her law and example." Seneca. 

The absence of any other fuel but blubber and 
oil makes it necessary to eat most of the animal food 
raw. Vegetables of any kind have been denied them 
and yet scurvy has spared them, as this disease, the 
terror of the early arctic explorers is unknown among 
them. The raw meat and the abundance of fat in 
their diet could only explain their immunity to this 
dread disease. The sailors of many former expedi- 
tions often lacked fresh meat, and it was then 
that they contracted scurvy. Doctor Kane under- 
stood, fully, this cause of scurvy and was convinced 
that fresh meat was the best prophylactic when he 
said: "Our own sickness (scurvy) I attribute to 
our civilized diet; had we plenty of frozen walrus, 
I would laugh at the scurvy." 

How easily white men can become accustomed 
tcr relish raw meat is shown by the same authority: 
"The liver of a walrus (awick tanuk') eaten with 
little slices of his fat, of a verity, it is a delicious 
morsel. Fire would ruin the curt, pithy expression of 
vitality which belongs to its uncooked juices. 
Charles Lamb's roast pig was nothing to awatuk." 

We know how Nansen enjoyed his blood pudding 
and Captain Bartlett of the "Roosevelt" could sub- 
sist a long time on the fresh blood of the seal, which 


he can drink with a relish. We, who are accus- 
tomed to a mixed diet and cooked animal food, 
would neither enjoy nor thrive on the ill-smelling 
blubber, fresh blood, and raw meat, which only goes 
to establish the truth of: 

"What is food for one man may be fierce poison 
to others. ' ' Lucretius. 

I could eat raw whale meat, but when cooked it was 
turned into a hard, black chip, neither palatable 
nor nutritious. 

The tough skin of the narwhal is considered a 
delicacy by the Smith Sound Eskimos, and as a spe- 
cific against scurvy by the Eskimos of the Danish 
settlements. I found it not at all unpalatable, but 
it required vigorous chewing to prepare it properly 
for the act of swallowing. 

I have not seen among the Eskimos any 
indications of rickets, recent or ancient. The 
mothers nurse their infants until they are two and 
more years old, unless the milk supply is interrupted, 
as it is occasionally by another pregnancy. When 
the babe is three months old, long before the period 
of teething, they are given small pieces of raw blub- 
ber which they greedily swallow whole, as we do 
oysters. All of the numerous children I saw were 
in excellent health, and infantile mortality, accord- 
ing to accounts I was able to obtain, is much less 
than in civilized countries. The child lives during 
the day in the hood of its mother. In the evening, 
young and old strip to the skin and then retire to 
the common family bed, with the children packed 
in between the adults. This custom of undressing 


before retiring is a very important hygienic measure, 
as the clothes, which are never cleaned nor washed, 
and dampened by perspiration during the day, 
are thoroughly ventilated and dried during the 
hours of sleep; besides, the different members of the 
family receive the benefits of the body heat of all. 
The Eskimo women are not prolific. I never saw 
more than four or five children in one family, and 
the average is less. It is a well-known fact that, 
during the first three years after mating, few chil- 
dren are born. Young couples frequently change 
mates in the first year or two till both are suited, 
when the union is practically permanent, except for 
temporary periods, during which an exchange may 
be effected with another man, or the wife loaned 
to a friend. 

While the sexual passions are strong, there is 
probably less jealousy here than in any other part 
of the world. To the credit of these people, it must 
be said that, while morals do not exist, they are free 
from any depraved appetites or habits. They do not 
disfigure their bodies in any way. They are without 
medicines, either for external or internal use, their 
angakoks or medicine men make no pretension to 
cure disease by the employment of medicines of any 
kind. They are the sorcerers and resort to incanta- 
tions when called upon to visit the sick. The Es- 
kimos of this part of Greenland are a remarkably 
healthy people. They are plump and well nourished, 
with ruddy cheeks and smooth, healthy skin. The 
subcutaneous fatty tissue is abundant, constituting 
an excellent protection against the severe cold. 


The Eskimos are almost exempt from the numer- 
ous chronic, degenerative diseases, such as Bright's 
disease, tuberculosis, cirrhosis of the liver, apoplexy, 
diabetes, etc., which cut so many lives short among 
civilized nations. Their most common diseases are 
rheumatism and bronchial affections. The causes 
of death among men come largely under the terse 
western expression, "with their boots on." Every 
year claims some deaths among the hunters. Star- 
vation has been a fruitful cause of death in the past. 
Two epidemics during the last ten years, one of 
arctic dysentery and the other of lagrippe, have 
claimed a considerable mortality. 

The Eskimo has no fixed time for eating or sleep- 
ing; he eats and sleeps when he feels like it, imita- 
ting to perfection in these respects the life of the lower 
animals. Each member of the family eats when 
hungry, and if the food supply warrants it, eats and 
eats until he can eat no more, and, when hunger is 
appeased, lies down and sleeps like the satiated cow 
in the green pasture. The Eskimo does not subject 
himself to the teaching of the proverb: 

"Thou should' st eat to live; not live to eat." 

Their indulgence in gorging themselves with 
their plain food, however, does not result as disas- 
trously as in the case of over-eating and intemper- 
ance in civilized countries. The men who enjoy 
the luxuries of their table, and the frequenters 
of many banquets, pay dearly for their so-called 
pleasures, as indulgences of this kind never fail to 
undermine their health and in cutting life short by 


Bright 's disease, diabetes, apoplexy, and other 
degenerative diseases of civilization. 

The old time-honored saying remains true: 

"The only way for a rich man to be healthy ^ 
is, by exercise and abstinence, to live as he were 
poor." Temple. 

A long experience has taught the Eskimo to build 
his winter home in a way to make it most effective 
in excluding the intense cold. All of the igloos 
(winter huts) are built on the same plan. The 
igloo, made of stone or blocks of ice, is from nine to 
fourteen feet long and not quite as wide. The en- 
trance is a long, narrow tunnel, which opens into 
the common room, barely high enough for an adult 
to stand erect. In the rear of the room is a raised 
platform for the common family bed, and the balance 
of the space serves as sitting room, dining room, 
kitchen, etc. On each side of the entrance are 
storehouses for the meat. A single small window 
over the entrance, made of seal intestines, admits a 
dim light and answers the purpose of a ventilator. 

Where the depth of the soil admits of excavation, 
a part of the dwelling is under ground. The span- 
ning roof is built on cantilever principle. It is made 
of flat stones and is as firm and unyielding as a 
masonry arch. The tunnel entrance is never closed; 
yet no draught or current disturbs the interior. 
Turf and snow are used on the outside as additional 
protection against wind and cold. These igloos are 
occupied from the latter part of September till April 
or May, when their interior becomes very damp and 


they are abandoned for the summer, which is spent 
in tents. The window and a part of the roof are re- 
moved during the summer to admit sunlight and 
wind, a very wise sanitary precaution. There is no 
ownership of igloos beyond the period of actual 
occupation. Seldom a family lives in one place for 
two consecutive years. 

The building of an igloo does not take much 
time nor require much labor and, after a winter's 
occupation, becomes so filthy that it is often easier 
to build a new one than to clean out the old. The 
tenting place is always selected in a location more 
or less distant from the winter quarters. The num- 
ber of igloos or tents of a settlement seldom exceeds 
five, which usually means a population of about 
twenty-five persons, with one or two hunters for 
each home. This moving about from place to place 
is a sanitary precaution against establishing foci of 
disease, and is regarded and practised as such by 
the Eskimos, as the}' have found by long experience 
that living in the same igloo year after year is at- 
tended by danger to health. 

The lack of morals among Eskimos is undoubtedly 
largely due to the promiscuous living together in 
such close quarters. They eat, live, sleep, and mate 
like animals. Their greatest fault is their indes- 
cribable filthiness. The accumulation of dirt on 
the oily skin and in the unwashed, uncleaned cloth- 
ing engenders a stench which is everywhere the 
same; a stench sui generis', a stench to which a white 
man cannot become habituated for a long time. If 
the wind is in the right direction, a single person can 


be scented many feet away, and when a crowd of 
them have gathered, as was the case on the "Erik," 
the stench becomes almost unbearable. It is very 
likely that this absolute neglect of ordinary cleanli- 
ness may be a prophylactic measure against disease 
in this climate, as 

"People who are always taking care of their 
health are like misers who are hoarding a 
treasure which they have never spirit enough 
to enjoy." Sterne. 

The smell which is so obnoxious to us, they do 
not perceive, or, perhaps, in the course of time it 
has become to them an agreeable perfume. 

Lying is one of the prominent failings of the 
Eskimos, and is as deeply rooted among them as 
among other races having a yellow or a black skin. 
On the other hand, they possess many excellent, 
inborn qualities. Although brought up in an atmos- 
phere of a purely socialistic life, where everything 
is in common except clothing, traveling equip- 
ments, weapons, implements, and a tent, the Eskimo 
is perfectly honest in his dealings with his fellow 
men and the few visitors with whom he is brought 
in contact. He does not steal. He respects the 
property of strangers, and, when he borrows any- 
thing, he is sure to return it at the expected time. 

Although proud of his origin and associations, 
the Eskimo lacks the haughtiness of the Indian. 
He is humble and resigned and 

"Humility and resignation are our prime 
virtues." Dry den. 


He is good-natured and friendly, wearing a pleas- 
ing smile on his swarthy, copper- tinted face, and 
fond of talking, but not at all demonstrative. Al- 
though these people usually meet once a year and 
know each other well, being in reality a large family 
rather than a tribe, I have never seen anything like 
an affectionate meeting or parting. One day a 
woman came on board with an infant in her hood, and, 
as she scrambled over the gunwale, she stood face 
to face with another Eskimo woman about the 
same age and similarly encumbered. As they 
must have been acquaintances and friends, I watched 
them very closely to see how they would receive each 
other. Neither of them changed a single line of her 
face. They stood like statues and looked at each 
other stolidly for some time, when finally one of them 
addressed herself to the infant of the other, smiled, 
said a few kind words and rubbed the chin of the 
little one. This opened the flood-gate of conversa- 
tion. They retired to a quiet place on the deck and 
spent the balance of the day in chatting over their 
experiences since they had last met. Commander 
Peary related to me even a more striking example 
of the undemonstrative nature of these children of 
the North. When the Eskimo girl who had spent 
a year with his iamily returned, the Commander 
was at Bowdoin Bay. Word was sent that the 
steamer, having the girl on board, was near-by, 
but, on account of ice, had some difficulty in reach- 
ing Peary's headquarters. The father of the girl, 
with a number of Peary's men, hastened to meet the 
incoming steamer. When they boarded the vessel 


the girl was asleep in the forecastle. She was 
awakened and informed that her father had arrived 
and was anxious to meet her. She went to sleep 
again and had to be awakened a second time. When 
she met her father there was not the slightest sign 
of emotion on either side, but after they had retired, 
the girl's tongue was unloosened and was kept busy 
relating all she had seen during her absence. The 
only word of greeting in the Eskimo language is 
chimo or, as Doctor Kane writes it, timo. It is their 
only word for welcome. They have no words which 
correspond with our "good morning," "good evening," 
or "good-by." Kunyanaka is their word for "I 
thank you," seldom made use of and which I never 
heard, although I thought I had given them ample 
opportunities to let me hear it. 

One of the most beautiful traits of the character 
of the Eskimos is their unbounded hospitality. 
Their igloos and tents (tupicks) are always open to 
their countrymen and strangers; and, while there, 
they are treated like members of the family. This 
hospitality is genuine and not feigned or for per- 
sonal gain, as is only too often the case in civilized 
communities and more especially so in our higher 
so-called aristocratic circles. 

We are too anxious to cultivate only the good- 
will and friendship of the prosperous. 

"Whilst you are prosperous, you can number 
many friends; but when the storm conies, you 
are left alone." Ovid. 

Not so with the Eskimos. They practice what 
they have not been taught beneficence, and 


"A beneficent person is like a fountain, water- 
ing the earth and spreading fertility; it is, 
therefore, more delightful and more honorable 
to give than receive." Epicurus. 

The Eskimos are very fond of their children. 
The children get their good share of the best things 
that are to be had and are furnished with playthings 
to amuse themselves. At an early age the children 
are taught what they are expected to do when they 
reach maturity. The boys are trained in hunting, 
kayaking, dog driving, and must learn how to build 
a kayak and an igloo. The girls are taught sewing, 
dressing of skins, and cooking, such as it is among the 
Eskimos. In other words they give all their chil- 
dren a practical education which enables them, at 
an early age, to obtain, by their own efforts, the 
necessities of life. They are kind to the aged and 
the infirm. Old age is respected and it is the oldest 
man in a settlement who is appealed to for advice 
and whose counsel is sought when differences of 
opinion or questions of right and wrong disturb the 
usual peaceful atmosphere of the camp. 

These people, the only real Eskimos left in the 
world, have never had a ruler of any kind, nor any 
fixed laws. They have always ruled themselves, and 

"The voice of the people is the voice of God." 

They live in a part of the world where equality 
and liberty reign supreme and 

"What is so much beloved by the people as 
liberty, which you see not only to be sought 
after by men, but also by beasts, and to be 
preferred to all things." Cicero. 


The slight touch with the whites, which the 
Smith Sound Eskimos have experienced, has not im- 
proved their condition. They have learned from 
the whites more of their vices than their virtues. A 
few years ago the taste of tobacco was not known 
to them; now they crave for the weed. I have seen 
children in their mother's hood smoke the pipe as 
it was passed from one member of the family to the 
other. Sailors have brought them diseases which, 
in the course of time, will exterminate this small 
remnant of a noble race. I had no difficulty in find- 
ing evidences of transmission from parents to off- 
spring of loathsome diseases for which the whites 
are responsible ; a fact which confirms only too plainly 
the prophecy in the scriptures: 

"Visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the 
children, and upon the children's children, unto 
the third and to the fourth generation." 
Exodus XXXIV, 7. 

What a pity that these innocent, childlike people 
should be made to suffer in consequence of the lust 
of civilized men who were benefited by their aid 
and hospitality! But such is the fate of all primi- 
tive races when brought under the dominating 
influence of the whites, and their offspring are made 
to experience, sooner or later, that 

"Posterity pay for the sin of their fathers." 
Quintus Curtius Rufus. 

A few years ago, when one of these Eskimos was 
given a drink of liquor, he would spit it out as some- 
thing obnoxious to his palate. Today, after a longer 
experience with foreigners, he has developed, like 


the Indian , a'strong desire for rum. Should opportunity 
offer, drunkenness will soon creep in as another 
curse brought to them by the whites. The Eskimo, 
when he once has acquired a taste for liquor, will 
lose control over his reason and will go beyond 
the limits of temperance in obedience to his 
cravings, as 

"Temperance is the moderating of one's de- 
sires in obedience to reason." Cicero. 

"Things forbidden alone are loved immoder- 
ately, when they may be enjoyed, they do not 
excite the desire." Quintilianus. 

The native dress is the only one adapted for the 
climate, but the desire of the savage to imitate the 
whites in dress is becoming manifest even here. 
Caps and undershirts are the articles of civilized 
dress most eagerly sought for and which, have been 
acquired in barter for ivory and fur. That the 
white man is not always honest in such dealings, 
our Indians know, only too well, from sad experience. 
These simple, confiding, ignorant people have no 
idea of the value of what they have to exchange, 
and much less of what they receive in exchange; 
hence, the bargain will always be in favor of the one 
who knows. A sailor said, boastingly, to me that 
for a broken, useless oar he received forty pounds of 
ivory, which has a ready sale at a dollar per pound. 
The shrewd traders do not carry into practice the 
rule that 

"Everything should be disclosed, that the 

buyer may be ignorant of nothing which the 

seller knows." Cicero. 


The firearms which have been given to the Es- 
kimos for service, or in exchange, have done these 
people, on the whole, more harm than good. They 
have made the killing of game easier and the young 
men are losing the art of primitive hunting, and the 
old hunters, inclined to laziness as they are, prefer 
to secure the game in the easiest possible manner 
and in the shortest space of time. The supply of 
ammunition is uncertain, and when it gives out, as 
is only too often the case, the former kind of hunting 
becomes more onerous than in former years. Powder 
as an article of exchange is in high estimation, higher 
than anything else, and it is with this article of 
barter that the best kind of bargains can be made. 
Then, too, the natives have not, as yet, learned to 
handle firearms with the necessary care, and acci- 
dents from their careless use are by no means rare. 
These simple, unsuspecting people have not yet 
learned to mistrust the foreigners, and, when they 
do, it will be too late to remedy the evils of the past. 

They are not demonstrative or sentimental, 
even under the most trying ordeals. Smiling 
and laughing is their nature; weeping is of rare 
occurrence, even when the shadows of death visit 
their humble home. Sufferings are soon forgotten 
and mourning for the dead is of short duration. 
The widow or widower mates again as soon as an 
opportunity offers, and sorrows are laid aside and 
give place to the routine duties of a life free from 

The Smith Sound Eskimos appear to be deeply 
conscious of the fact that 



"To be free minded and cheerfully disposed, 
at hours of meat, sleep, and exercise, is one of 
the best precepts of long lasting." Bacon. 

Indolence and shiftlessness are conspicuous char- 
acteristics of the Eskimos. They have no ambition 
either for wealth or fame. They furnish a striking 
example of the truth that 

"The desire for leisure is much more natural 
than of business and care." Temple. 

Avarice and luxury, the two great curses of 
civilization, are unknown vices to these children of 
nature, and Cicero's advice does not apply to them: 

"If you wish to destroy avarice, you must de- 
stroy luxury, which is its mother.". 

The Eskimo only takes exercise when necessity 
compels him, and never as a health measure or as 
a source of pleasure. He has no faith in the teach- 
ings of Galen, who regards active exercise as essen- 
tial to physical and mental well being. 

"Employment, which Galen calls 'Nature's 
Physician,' is so essential to human happiness 
that indolence is justly considered the mother 
of misery." Barton. 

In spite of all the hardships and difficulties the 
Eskimo has to encounter, he loves the land he lives 
in. He has no history of which he can be proud, no 
flag to incite patriotism, no heroes to emulate or 
admire, and yet it is only in this region of ice and 
snow, where darkness and light are most equally 
divided, that he is happy and content. Transplanted 
to another clime he sickens and dies. Far away 


from his native land, he is homesick, discouraged, 
and melancholy. He has 

"Affection for the soil itself, which, in length 
of time, is acquired from habit." Livius. 

He enjoys and loves life; he fears death. 

"The love of life, the last that lingers in the 
human heart." Statins. 

The study of these people of the extreme North, 
a distinct race with an obscure origin, their habits, 
customs, mental and physical characteristics, is a 
subject replete with interest bordering on fascina- 
tion, and will teach us that 

"The characters of men placed in lower sta- 
tions of life are more useful, as being imitable 
by greater numbers." Atterbury. 


"Health and sickness, enjoyment and suffer- 
ing, riches and poverty, knowledge and ignor- 
ance, power and subjection, liberty and bond- 
age, civilization and barbarity have all their 
offices and duties; all serve for the formation 
of character." Paley. 

The span of life of the Eskimo is probably a little 
shorter than that of civilized people, although he 
is exempt from nearly all the diseases caused by 
intemperance and luxurious living. The Psalmist's 
limit of age is not often attained. Men and women 
between sixty and seventy are not many among the 
present population. Most reluctantly the Eskimo, 


in his icy home, is blind to the uncertainty of the 
future, and it would be difficult to convince him that 

"Death is the liberator of him whom freedom 
cannot release, the physician of him whom 
medicine cannot cure, and the comforter of him 
whom time cannot console." Cotton. 


"Nature has given to man nothing of more 
value than shortness of life." Plurius Major. 

These people were happy and content before 
they tasted of some of the poisonous fruits of civi- 
lization. They are blind to some of the highest 
virtues of life. Centuries of isolation from the out- 
side world have developed in them an animal nature 
which it will be difficult, if not impossible, to control, 
much less to extinguish by any known influence the 
foreigners can bring to bear upon them; while, on the 
other hand, they are like all primitive races, only too 
receptive for new vices. Civilization will bring to 
them new needs and desires which they will attempt 
to gratify and which will deviate them from the well- 
trodden path of living according to nature's laws. 
When too late, they will learn to their sorrow: 

"If thou live according to nature, thou wilt 
never be poor; if according to the opinions of 
the world, thou wilt never be rich." Seneca. 



Our heaven is near the Arctic Pole 

Here, where ice and snow forever dwell 
And lofty mountains inspire our soul 

As we glance o'er hill, cliff, crag, and dell. 

O Sinipo! 

Our most dreaded foe, 
Spare the Eskimo. 

Our house of ice is our happy home 

Where Kuna sews and our children play, 
Over land and sea we love to roam 
We all humbly pray do death delay. 

O Sinipo! 

Our most dreaded foe, 
Spare the Eskimo. 

O Sinipo! Let us here below 

Where bear, seal and walrus yield us food, 
Our paradise is here, you well know' 

Where we wish to dwell in happy mood. 

O Sinipo! 

Our most dreaded foe, 
Spare the Eskimo. 

We love the land of the midnight sun, 

The icy mountains, the frozen sea; 
The winter's long night we do not shun; 
Let us remain here, we pray of thee. 

O Sinipo! 

Our most dreaded foe, 
Spare the Eskimo. 


Etah is in the very heart of the arctic region. It 
is the most northern point inhabited by human 
beings in the world. It is a place familiar to all 
arctic explorers who have searched for the pole by 
the way of Smith Sound, as it is the last native 
settlement on the Greenland coast on this highway 
to the pole. The name Etah is intimately associated 
with some of the most stirring and disastrous events 
in the history of arctic exploration. This region 
has been known since 1616, when Bylot and Baffin 
sailed past the coast for the first time. In 1818 
Sir John Ross found the Smith Sound coast in- 
habited, and became well acquainted with the 
natives, from whom he received much valuable infor- 
mation and assistance. It was Sir John who called 
the natives in this part of Greenland "Arctic High- 

The arctic scenery about Etah is magnificent. 
The day after our arrival, I ascended Cape Ohlsen, 
about 2,000 feet above the level of the sea, from 
where the great inland ice-cap loomed up high above 
the coast range of mountains on one side, and on the 
other the icy waters of Smith Sound carry south- 
ward fields of pack-ice and countless giant icebergs. 
Beyond this is the uninviting, chilly, barren, snow 
and ice-covered coast of Ellesmere Land with its 



two most conspicuous landmarks, Cape Isabella and 
Cape Sabine. For the first time, I was given here an 
opportunity to see the effects of ice on the clouds, 
on a large scale. When the sun was hidden behind 
the clouds, the clouds to the south, over the water, 
free from ice, or nearly so, were dark; to the north 
and along the coast of Ellesmere Land, where an 
immense field of ice was being carried south by 
the Arctic Current, the overhanging clouds were 
illuminated by the reflection from the ice. The 
same effect on the clouds is produced by the inland 
ice. To the arctic navigators, this effect of large 
bodies of ice on the appearance of the clouds is a 
very important sign in determining, at a distance, 
the difference between open water and water cov- 
ered with ice. 

I found here, at the summit of the mountains, in 
many places drifts of last winter's snow, and in 
one of them, fresh tracks of a polar bear and a cub, 
which I followed as far as the snow extended and 
then lost them on the bare, stony plateau. The 
number and size of the boulders which are scattered 
over the mountain mesas are something remarkable. 
Where they came from and how they were brought 
here by glacier action are things we can only con- 
jecture. Near the summit of the mountain, in a 
shallow, I found a moss tundra, and, in all places 
where a little soil had accumulated, tufts of grass and 
several kinds of flowers. Numerous stone fox- traps, 
in a neglected condition, were found in different 
places, indicating the favorite haunts of this valu- 
able fur-bearing animal. 

o- < 

8 o 

yf 533 



"What more miraculous may be told 
Than ice, which is congeal'd with senseless 

Should kindle fire by wonderful device. 1 ' 


Who would look for a flower garden in the im- 
mediate vicinity of a glacier in this latitude? The 
arctic region is full of surprises and, to me, not the 
least was a charming flower garden and a treeless 
park before the very face of Brother John's Glacier. 

This glacier was so named by Doctor Kane in 
memory of his brother, John, who searched for 
Dr. Kane and found him at Etah. This glacier is a 
leader of the near-by inland ice-cap, in a deep gorge, 
at the head of Foulke Fiord. A large stream of 
clear, crystal water issues from underneath the 
face of the glacier and speeds over a stony bed to 
reach a beautiful little mountain lake, to find tem- 
porary repose. It then resumes its journey over a 
gradual decline, about a mile in length, and finally 
empties, after dividing into numerous small branches 
covering a small delta, into the bay. 

There are a number of ancient igloos near the 
mouth of this stream and a low, grassy plateau, 
where the natives for a long time have, evidently, 
had their winter home. The flower garden I am 
speaking of does not consist of isolated flowers, like 
the gentian, edelweiss, and Alpine rose, found near 
the edge of glaciers and eternal snow of the Swiss 
Alps, but a great variety of flowers, and in numbers 
surpassing the most exaggerated ideas of the floral 


wealth of the very heart of the arctic region. I 
found here, not only swards of the richest green and 
a variety of exquisite little flowers, but also a plant 
living on the cold bosom of the glacier itself. With 
such evidences of the wonderful resources of nature 
before me, it did seem to me that ice does "kindle 
fire by wonderful device." 

The reflection of the heat rays of the sun by ice 
is a remarkable feature, and, as such, is familiar to 
all Alpinists. In Foulke Fiord, the almost per- 
pendicular mountain walls on each side, their rocks 
and cliffs veneered with a coating of the color of 
old gold, the work of a chromogenic lichen, also 
reflect the heat rays. Both of these sources of heat 
and the sheltered position of the valley, under the 
influence of the genial midnight sun, transform the 
upper part of Foulke Fiord, during the midsummer, 
into a little paradise teeming with animal and vege- 
table life. I saw here, basking in the sunshine, 
mosquitoes, flies, butterflies, and even a bumblebee 
of no small proportions. The twittering song of 
the snow-bunting lent cheer to the pure calm air. 
The arctic hare was much in evidence, and dem- 
onstrated to us his speed in ascending the steepest 
inclines without much effort on his part. The air was 
alive with the little auk, and the lordly burgomaster 
dwelling on the highest cliffs came down in large 
numbers to the the little mountain lake for sport 
and food. Between the glacier and the shore of the 
bay is unfolded a panorama of indescribable beauty. 
It is one of nature's most beautiful parks, without 
trees and shrubs. To me it is doubtful if the pres- 


ence of trees and shrubs could enhance the exquisite 
beauty of this, one of the most beautiful spots on 
earth. The only shrub that I could find was the 
dwarfed willow, from two to six inches in length, 
wearing its catkins in full blossom; the shrub, not 
erect, but modestly reclining on or under moss in 
a begging attitude, pleading for protection against 
wind, ice, and snow. There are here no gorgeous 
fragrant flowers; no birds of plumage or of song. 
But nature has given this favored spot in the heart 
of the arctics charms which defy description. The 
gem-like silver lake, the rippling mountain stream 
above and below it, the enormous boulders scattered 
over the surface of the valley, the gilded mountain 
walls, the great inland ice-cap, with its leader, 
Brother John's Glacier, the beautiful display of 
flowers, and the myriads of birds make up a scenery 
difficult, if not impossible, to duplicate anywhere else 
in the world. The time here is too short, even 
under the bewitching rays of the midnight sun, 
for nature to produce anything bearing the faintest 
resemblance to tropic scenery. What is on exhibition 
here is intended, exclusively, to please the eye. The 
senses of smell, taste, and hearing are almost entirely 
ignored. The eye is captivated by the harmony 
and simplicity of the display. On surveying the 
magnificence of the scenery, one awakens to the 
truth of: 

"In nature, all is managed for the best, with 
perfect frugality and just reserve, profuse to 
none, but bountiful to all; never employing 
on .one thing more than enough, but with 


exact economy, retrenching the superfluous 
and adding force to what is principal in every- 
thing.' ' Shaftesbury. 

Nowhere could this quotation be applied with 
more force than in studying the environments of 
Brother John's Glacier. Stand, as I did, on the shore of 
the bay, face the glacier, look to right and to the left, 
glance over the green carpet of soft, velvety grass 
which covers a large part of the floor of the valley, 
look upward, and behold the blue dome of the sky 
illuminated by the friendly, smiling midnight sun 
and you will be in a fit mental mood to realize that 

"Nature, the handmaid of God Almighty, doth 
nothing but with good advice if we make re- 
searches into the true reason of things." 
James HowelL 

In the face of nature in a stern mood, so near 
the great ice-shield that covers the greater part of 
Greenland, so near the car of the King of the North 
Pole, surrounded by a short-lived but vigorous vege- 
tation, and in the presence of so much animal life, 
and valley and mountainsides decorated with a great 
variety of pretty flowers, grass, moss, and lichens in 
gay colors, we are made to feel our insignificance, 
and are only too willing to acknowledge 

"To recount almighty works, 
What words of tongue or seraph can suffice, 
Or heart of man sufficient to comprehend.'' 


The inclosing mountains, rising almost perpen- 
dicularly from the valley, with their rugged faces 
hid behind a drapery of rich orange-yellow, alive 


with the little auk, and upon their highest shelves 
the homes of the great arctic gull, the little river of 
clear, crystal water, meandering over its rocky, 
pebbly bed, draining the bewitching little emerald 
lake near the face of the glacier, the great ice- 
cap overtowering all and sending down in to the rock- 
bound valley one of the hundreds of its icy arms, 
the majestic, snow-white burgomaster, gliding grace- 
fully and noiselessly over the rippling surface of the 
miniature lake and darkened with the restless little 
auk flying from cliff to cliff out on the open ocean 
and back, can all be seen without changing the posi- 
tion. But let us look more closely at what nature 
has in store for the eye already dazzled by the bound- 
less beauties of the panoramic views. Walking in 
the direction of the glacier after landing at the head 
of the bay, I have to wade through meadows where 
the grass is high enough for the scythe. The tiny 
stellaria is everywhere rivalling in whiteness the 
patches of last year's snow clinging to the shady 
places on the mountain sides imparting to the whole 
scenery an aspect of virgin purity. Where the soil 
is more scanty the beautiful yellow poppy (Papaver 
nudicaulis) thrives and fills the spaces between boul- 
ders with a carpet of gold. In doing this it is assisted 
by the shiny, deep yellow petals of the ranunculus 
and dandelion, the latter rising proudly above a 
whirl of crenated, succulent basal leaves. Here 
and there the predominating white and yellow alter- 
nates with flowers of a ruby red, in small bunches 
and large beds, made up of the little corollas, rising 
an inch or two above the ground. The homely, 


succulent saxifrage (Saxifraga nivalis) competed with 
the grass for space in moist places. Then there was 
to be found, in the same places, the familiar butter- 
cup (Caltha palustris), the pedicularis, and three 
varieties of water cress (Draba). 

Extending to the very edge of the glacier these 
flowers and a number of others were also found, with 
the greatest varieties of grasses, mosses, and lichens. 
Even small mushrooms, with their somber, plicated, 
umbrella-like roofs, nature had not forgotten. It 
requires no stretch of the imagination to see that 
I was here able to make a valuable addition to my 
North Star Bay herbarium. 

If we remember that this rich floral display had 
to be made in less than two months, and that new 
ice has already formed on the mountains leaving 
little time for the ripening of the seeds, we must 
marvel at the boundless resources of nature in pleas- 
ing the eye of the masterpiece of creation man. 

In approaching the glacier, I saw, issuing from 
beneath it, numerous rivulets of the clearest, purest 
water, and I listened to their gentle murmurings as 
they sped over their uneven bed of pebbles and 
boulders to unite into a stream of considerable size, 
which fed the near-by, placid little lake. Doctor 
Kane makes the statement that this lake remains 
open during the entire winter. The face and surface 
of the glacier were deeply furrowed from the effects 
of the summer sun, and here and there miniature 
waterfalls and cascades drained the product of the 
melting process into the network of rivulets below. 

All this was interesting and instructive, but it 


yet remains for me to describe here one of nature's 
great secrets red snow. Before ascending the gla- 
cier, I noticed, on the surface near its face, a large 
patch which looked as though the snow covering it 
had been stained with blood. I knew I had succeeded 
in finding an opportunity to study this strange phe- 
nomenon so often alluded to by arctic explorers. 
It was an inducement for me to make the necessary 
effort to climb the face of the glacier and reach this 
spot. When I undertook this arduous task, it was 
so warm that I was obliged to remove my hunting 
coat and perspired freely in shirt sleeves. The ascent 
of the face of the glacier was exceedingly difficult, 
and when I reached the surface I found that the 
heat of the sun had softened the snow and converted 
it into a mass resembling crushed sea-salt. I sank 
at every step knee deep into the loose, crystallized 
snow, crossed deep furrows rilled with water, but the 
red snow must be reached. It was hard work, but 
I secured a sufficient quantity of the stained snow 
for my purpose. Can plants grow on snow? They 
do here. This red snow is snow stained blood-red 
by a minute plant, an alga, (Spaerella nivalis). It 
was the first time I saw red snow, although I looked 
for it all along the coast. Commander Peary saw 
it on this trip near Cape York. 

It seems that red snow was seen oftener by the 
early arctic explorers than it is now. Doctor Kane 
saw much of it, and, from his observations, 
became convinced that it was only found in places 
where, on the surface of the snow, foreign matter, 
such as fronds of lichen or filaments of moss, have 


accumulated, serving as a nutrient medium for the 
protococcus. He says further: "I observed 
that the color of the protococcus was most pro- 
nounced when they were in great abundance." The 
algae produce a red staining material which pene- 
trates the snow to the depth of several inches. The 
intensity of the stain diminishes from the surface 
downward. In the spot where I collected the red 
snow, the coloration extended more than four inches 
below the surface. No snow was found in the ban- 
dana handkerchief when I reached the steamer, but 
the residue on the surface of the cloth, subjected to 
microscopic examination, revealed the protococcus. 
Plant life on snow ! A flower garden in the center 
of the arctic region, in the very face of a glacier, and 
so near the cold breath of Greenland's interior ocean 
of ice! 

"Our senses, however armed or assisted, are too 
gross to discern the curiosity of the workman- 
ship of nature." Ray. 


"They picture it a gloomy place, 

With icy mountains rising high, 
With angry clouds that sail across 

A far-off, somber sea of sky; 
Where nought of beauty ever lives 

Where peaceful thought could ne'er abide, 
But only sentiments of awe, 

To fear and trembling close allied! 

"But walk with me beside the lake, 

A gem of silver 'mid the green, 
While rippling streamlets, crystal clear, 

Tell cheery tales of all they'd seen: 


Of mountainsides, soft tinted with 
The sunshine's gold; of whitest snow 

That blushed bright red, when seaweeds touched 
And praised its face of pearly glow. 

"Stand in the valley, walled by cliffs, 

That rise in straightest lines on high; 
They're draped in veils of richest hue, 

While auk and sea-gull hover nigh. 
Come through the meadows thick with grass, 

Where tiny star-like flowers smile back 
In beds of snow, that hide away 

From out the sunshine's golden track! 

"The lovely dome of azure blue, 

Whence smiles the wondrous Midnight Sun, 
Looks not upon a flowery soil, 

With tropic beauties overrun. 
'Tis close to where stern Frost is king, 

But, O, it is a glorious land! 
And speaks in loudest tones of God, 

And 'works of His Almighty Hand!' 

"I've traveled where the scented breeze 

In sweetest music sang of rest; 
I've gazed on many a favored spot, 

Where Nature lies in Beauty's nest! 
But Land of glorious Midnight Sun, 

To thee, my song of praise I sing! 
Thy wonders make men bow the knee, 

And hail their God as sovereign King!" 
Mary E. Griffin. 


Sunday was observed by the Newfoundland 
sailors as strictly here as in any of the home harbors. 
The only two men who did the necessary work were 
the cook and the steward. The Eskimos who had 
no religious scruples were put to work in unloading the 



more than hundred dogs we had picked up at the 
different settlements along the coast. Boat load 
after boat load of these miserable brutes, whose 
appearance and behavior had not improved during 
the voyage, left for the shore, and toward evening 
all were landed, to the great relief of all on board. 
The "Roosevelt" had brought about the same num- 
ber, and, for some distance, the rocky shore was 
covered with these beasts, some of them tied securely 
to large stones. The snapping, barking, and dismal 
howling by this numerous family of dogs were kept 
up without interruption night and day. The na- 
tives then began to unload the carcasses of the 
eighteen walruses which, by the use of row boats, 
were brought on board the "Roosevelt." Monday 
morning the deck of the "Erik" was clear of the most 
obnoxious part of its cargo and a general cleaning up 
removed the unpleasant conditions which had taxed 
our patience and forbearance so severely for a number 
of days. 

Sunday afternoon, twelve Eskimo women, half 
of them with infants in their hoods, went ashore all 
alone in one of the large boats and in a few hours 
returned with several bags filled with moss and a 
large basket full of young auks. There was great 
excitement when the boat, managed by the women, 
came aside of the steamer. The sea had become 
rough since their departure, so that it was difficult 
to steady the boat, and in their attempt to come up 
to the ladder several waves dashed over them. The 
women who managed the oars remained cool during 
the ordeal, but felt much relieved when their hus- 


bands came to their relief, when one after the other 
scrambled up the unsteady ladder and landed on the 
deck. In the evening four of the women came into 
our dining room and gave us an exhibition of the 
native dance and song. The former consisted of 
swaying movements of the body to the tune of an 
empty cigar box, beaten with a knife sharpener; 
the latter was the monotonous unmusical chant of 
the country. I distributed peanuts. They com- 
menced to eat them in the shell. They evidently 
never had seen a peanut before, and when they were 
instructed in the proper way of eating them, they 
appeared to enjoy the treat. 

The real Etah weather set in soon after lowering 
the anchor. The sky became overcast, shutting 
out the midnight sun, and a dense fog and drizzling 
rain obscured the surrounding beautiful scenery. 
The temperature, which, in the morning, was 46 F., 
fell to 40 F. in the evening. Monday, August i4th. 
Fog has disappeared; occasional. sunshine. 


During our ten days' sojourn at Etah, I spent 
most of my time hunting and collecting botanical 
specimens. When we entered Foulke Fiord we 
met three walruses swimming in the direction of the 
open sea, and these were the last seen on the trip. 
Only one seal was seen here during the entire time. 
He was wounded, but made good his escape. The 
Eskimos stated that the reindeer had disappeared 
from that part of the country for the season, so we 
were obliged to look for small game. During all 


my wanderings in the neighborhood of Etah, I did 
not see a sign of ptarmigan. 


The arctic hare (Lepus timidus) is as large as 
the jack rabbit, and is quite plentiful about Etah. 
I killed seven in half a day on the summit of 
the mountain back of Cape Ohlsen. This animal 
has found its way from Europe to Greenland, and 
in the course of time has become completely 
bleached with the exception of the tips of the ears, 
which are black. It is found as far as the most 
northern point of Greenland, where one was killed 
by Peary's companion at a time when starvation 
stared them in the face. It was agreed between 
the two that only a small part of the animal should 
be eaten and the balance reserved for the next day; 
but their hunger was so intense that the whole car- 
cass was eaten before the meal was finished. Then 
both lay down and slept for hours, to awake re- 
freshed and ready for the musk-ox hunt which 
proved successful and supplied them with an abun- 
dance of food. There have been many other occa- 
sions where this little animal came to the relief of 
parties in great distress. The arctic hare, inhabit- 
ing as it does, the coldest climate in the world, has 
preserved the length of its ears, while nearly all of 
the mammalian animals of the same region have lost 
the lobe of the ear. In the walrus and narwhal, the 
lobe of the ear is entirely absent; in the latter animal, 
the external meatus has been reduced to the size of 
a pin-hole. The ears of the fox and polar bear are 


very short. The arctic hare is a very timid animal. 
Its only defenses are its speed in summer and its 
white color in winter which matches the spotless 
snow, when it is difficult for its enemies to detect it. 
The natives waste no powder in securing this animal, 
as it is caught in stone-traps like the fox. The fur 
is used in making sox. 


This part of the coast is the favorite haunt of the 
little, swift, hard flying auk, the real arctic bird. It 
is the bird that brought the tidings of spring to Mr. 
Nansen when he was in winter quarters in lati- 
tude 83 north. The little auk (Alle nigricans) is a 
species of sea-fowl belonging to the family alcidce. 
It is a little smaller than the teal-duck, a thick set, 
heavily built bird, with short wings and tail; black, 
with white breast and three-toed, webbed feet. It 
is only found in the colder parts of the northern 
hemisphere, and many breed within the Arctic Circle. 
The bill is black, round and short, slightly curved 
downward, the upper mandible projecting beyond 
the lower. The little auks fly as swiftly as the teal- 
duck, but with greater effort, as the wings are short 
and narrow. They are also expert swimmers and 
divers. If they see the flash of the gun they are in 
safety, as they dive before the shots reach their 
mark. The great auk (Alca impennis), a wingless 
bird as large as a goose, formerly very numerous in 
the arctic regions and as far south as the coast of New- 
foundland, has been extinct for the last fifty years. 
It was eagerly sought after by the Eskimos and 


fishermen for food and because its skin was valuable 
material for clothing. It was easily secured, as it 
could not fly, and soon became extinct. We 
found, on entering Foulke Fiord, the air filled with 
enormous flocks of the little auk, flying up near the 
clouds and others flying only a few feet above the 
surface of the water. 

Foulke Fiord is one of the favorite breeding 
places of the little auk. There is no place in the 
world where so many birds can be seen at any time, 
night or day. Although the midnight sun makes 
no distinction between day and night, I noticed 
that the greatest flights were early in the morning, 
when the birds go feeding on the opfen sea, and in the 
evening between six and ten o'clock, when they 
return to their roosts. They feed on shrimps, clios, 
and entomostraca. 

It is now near the middle of August, the time 
when snow may be expected, and it seemed to me 
that the fabulous numbers of this bird indicated 
that they were congregating here preparatory to 
their migration southward, because, 

"Fowls by winter forced forsake the floods, 
And wing their hasty flight to happier lands." 



The provision nature has made for the sustenance 
and clothing of man in the cold, stern, unfriendly 
climate of the far north is simply marvelous. In the 
tropics, fruit and fish abound, the food appropriate 
for that climate. In this climate, sea-fowl and fat 



and fur-yielding mammalians are the animals which 
nature has intended for food and clothing of the 
scanty population. The Eskimo has no need of, 
and no desirefor, vegetables. Watercress and dan- 
delions, relished by us either eaten raw, boiled, or 
in the form of a salad, and which grow in abundance 
in the Foulke Fiord and other places on the coast, 
the natives have no use for. I tried to make them 
familiar with these excellent articles of a mixed diet, 
but they had no more use for them than we would 
have for their overripe blubber and raw meat. By 
long usage, their gastro-intestinal canal and secre- 
tory glands in connection with it have become averse 
to vegetable food and partial to the kind of food best 
adapted for this rigorous climate raw fat and 
meat. They have become, exclusively, meat eaters; 
and, although I have no positive information on the 
anatomy of their intestinal canal, I surmise it is 
very short and resembles more closely that of their 
dogs than that of people who live on a vegetable or 
mixed diet. The result of frequent inquiries of per- 
sons who have seen much of Eskimo life is that 
appendicitis never occurs in these people, and I be- 
lieve this is the case with all races that live exclu- 
sively on an animal diet. 

It is very interesting here to observe how differ- 
ent animals select certain places for their short 
summer life. The narwhal, seal, and walrus have 
their own feeding grounds; the eider-duck selects 
its own island; the guillemot and kittiwake are good 
friends and associate together; but the former claims 
the higher shelves of the cliff. The burgomaster- 


gull preempts the highest, the most inaccessible tiers, 
and will not have anything to do with the neighbors 
living at a lower altitude. The little auk prefers to 
live alone and claims miles and miles along the 
northern part of the west coast of Greenland for its 
exclusive use as breeding places. Foulke Fiord is 
the most densely populated breeding place of this 
daring, hardy inhabitant of the polar region. 

This typical bird of the far North spends no time 
in making a nest. It selects for its rookeries rocky 
cliffs and deposits its single egg between stones 
where the entrance is too narrow for the arctic fox 
to reach it. It hatches its single egg by its own body 
warmth on the cold, senseless rock. Before the 
little one can fly it is taken to the water below, and 
is instructed in the art of swimming and diving by 
its devoted mother. Many a feather less, helpless 
young auk did we surprise among the loose rocks of 
this famous rookery. No one, who has not been an 
eye witness, can form the faintest idea of the vast 
numbers of the little auk which can be seen at any 
time in the rookeries, on the water, and in the air 
in Foulke Fiord. Before we entered this fiord, Com- 
mander Peary informed me that I would see there a 
wealth of bird life that would astonish me, and which 
could not be seen anywhere else in the world. His 
prediction was more than realized. The rookeries 
are in places where the steep mountainsides are 
covered with loose stones. From the level of the 
water up to a height of about 1,000 feet, the auk 
lives during the breeding season. To climb up a 
steep cliff about 500 feet and take a place among the 


loose rocks in the very center of a densely crowded 
breeding place is the only way in which to obtain 
some idea of the density of the population of this 
bird. The rocks are literally covered with birds, 
buried under black and white, the colors of the liv- 
ing, moving bird carpet. On most of the rocks, 
standing room is scarce. Frightened by the appear- 
ance of the burgomaster-gull swooping down from 
the dizzy heights of the cliff, their worst enemy, 
they rise with the speed of lightning and fill the air, 
like a swarm of bees, and not a bird can be seen in 
the immediate neighborhood of the seat of invasion. 
The danger over, by the disappearance of the cause 
of flight, the whirr of the hard-working wings of the 
legitimate inhabitants of the rookery is again heard, 
and in a few minutes the rocks are as thickly popu- 
lated as before the invasion. These birds have no 
fear of man. They perch on stones almost within 
reach of the hand all around him. When fright- 
ened by the appearance of the burgomaster or the 
discharge of a gun, they rush off with the noise and 
speed of a tornado, only to come back in a few min- 
utes to occupy the same places. 

One day I watched the evening flight of this 
bird from the bridge of the steamer. From about 
eight to ten o'clock, a continuous stream poured 
into the fiord from the open sea, flying close to the 
surface of the water. It was an uninterrupted, 
quivering, silvery stream, while large flocks, not 
far apart, flew in the same direction near the summit 
and face of the mountains, and still others high up 
in the air. During the early morning hours, the 


flight was in an opposite direction. These birds, 
found in such fabulous numbers here and for miles 
along the coast, furnish the natives with an impor- 
tant article of food and material for under clothing. 
The auk is one of the first birds to bring the 
Eskimos the tidings of approaching spring and the 
forerunner of the prospective walrus hunt. The 
natives waste no ammunition in securing these 
birds. They are netted without difficulty, a task 
belonging exclusively to the women. Armed with 
a hand net, the women hide themselves behind a 
projecting rock in the line of the most active flight, 
and when the birds come within range, which, is 
only a question of time, they throw out the net and 
catch the game. A large basketful in a few hours 
is an ordinary catch. The skinning of these birds is 
done very expeditiously and skillfully by the women. 
A circular incision is made around the base of the 
bill, and though this small cut the body of the bird 
is enucleated with their deft fingers in a few minutes 
without doing any damage to the skin. Wings and 
legs are severed by biting them off at the desirable 
places. The flesh is generally eaten raw. I sampled 
stewed and broiled auk, but they did not taste any 
different to me than our hell-diver prepared in the 
same way. The skins are dried, and then chewed 
soft and pliable by the women, when they serve as 
a most excellent material for under-vests for both 
sexes. Very few other birds venture into Foulke 
Fiord. Among them are the burgomaster, black 
guillemot, eider-duck, and the raven. The raven is 
the only bird in the arctic region that does not mi- 


grate. It remains loyal to the region during the 
entire year. It is a magnificent bird, daring and 
courageous. The last bird in Foulke Fiord that I 
killed was a raven, and it took both barrels of my 
shot gun to secure him as one of my trophies. One 
of the members of our party killed seventy auks 
with two shots, which will give to the reader an idea 
of the fabulous number of this bird in Foulke Fiord 
during the breeding season. The best I could do 
when looking for meat for the crew of the "Erik" 
was to kill twenty-three birds in one shot. 

The rookeries in Foulke Fiord ought to be a 
source of considerable income to the Danish govern- 
ment by deposits of guano, but this deposit is washed 
away annually and is only found in parts of the 
world where the wild fowl congregate and their de- 
posits remain and inspissate, accumulating rich 
phosphates and ammonia in the form of the most 
valuable fertilizer. In the auk cliffs of Foulke 
Fiord and elsewhere on the coast, the animal deposit 
is removed by the freshets every year, and emanates 
a foul odor which keeps at a distance even the arctic 
hare, a scrupulously clean animal. 


The time for our departure came long before the 
unloading was completed and about 350 tons of coal 
was our ballast when we left Etah at 5:45 P. M., 
Wednesday, August 23d. The weather for this lati- 
tude and this time of the year was exceptionally 
fine. The midnight sun shone most of the time in 
all his splendor; the atmosphere was clear, dry, and 


bracing; temperature in the shade ranged between 
35 F. and 53 F,, and the highest the thermometer 
registered in the sun was 63 F. Several nights 
thin ice formed on small pools on the mesas of the 
high mountains. Several times sun and moon were 
visible in the sky at the same time, obscuring entirely 
the more feeble light of the largest stars, which, in 
the dark winter, are so numerous and conspicuous 
near the pole. Although we were detained here 
longer than was expected, there were many things 
of interest to occupy my attention. The midnight 
sun, always present, and his various relations to 
the sky, clouds, mountains, icebergs, ice-cap, gla- 
ciers, to the ocean, and on the near-by coast of 
Ellesmere Land furnished a study replete with new 
surprises and uninterrupted pleasures. The timid 
moon contributed her share to the pleasures of the 
study of the ever interesting sky. The climbing of 
mountains and hunting on sea and land afforded 
ample sport and recreation. The collection and 
classification of the interesting flora and the daily 
study of the natives, their manners, and habits 
of living made time pass rapidly and profitably. 

Commander Peary in making the final selection 
of the native contingent of his expedition, left 
twenty Eskimos at Etah four men, a number of 
boys from twelve to sixteen years of age, and the 
rest women and children. This remnant of the 
expedition lived in four tents, pitched under a cliff 
near the anchorage place of the "Erik" and "Roose- 
velt." From the time we arrived in North Star 
Bay, I have had an opportunity to see and observe 


more than one hundred Eskimos from different 
parts of the west coast, more than one-half of the 
entire population of the genuine natives, and there 
has not been a day when I did not find some new 
feature or trait of these interesting people. I have 
watched the animal instincts and skill of the 
Eskimo hunter and marveled at the dexterity with 
which the women dress skins and convert them into 
clothing and boots. I never tired of seeing the 
toy -like, frail kayak glide over the smooth water 
paddled by men, women, and children with admir- 
able skill. The home life of these untutored 
children of nature is as simple as it is interesting. 
Perhaps I cannot give a glimpse of this in a more 
tangible way than by relating a brief account of 


After the departure of the "Roosevelt," the na- 
tives left behind lived for several days in the fore- 
castle of the "Erik." Among them was a little 
woman, not more than four feet six inches in height, 
who came on board the "Erik" at North Star Bay 
all alone. From whence she came we did not know, 
but, judging from the appearance of her boots and 
clothing, the scanty outfit she carried, and the 
ravenous appetite she displayed, she must have 
made a long journey over land. She had no rela- 
tives among the people we had already on board or 
those who joined us later, but was treated well by 
all of them, as is the custom among them when they 
travel from one settlement to another. It was 
rumored that she was a widow, and her flaccid 
breasts, not too carefully hidden, showed only too 
plainly that she had been a mother. She was free 
to admit that her age corresponded with the number 
of fingers on four hands, but her looks indicated that 
it would be perfectly safe to add the five fingers of 
another hand, if not more. She was not as cheerful 
and happy as the rest, and her face was such as to 
impress one that she had recently undergone some 
sorrowful experiences. She took a lively interest 
in everything that was going on and seemed to 
brighten up day after day. She was fond of work, 

2 55 


and for a few presents of little value she dressed the 
skins of my two walrus heads and many bird skins, 
the latter by chewing them. In scraping the walrus 
skins she never wasted a fragment of the gel- 
atinous substance about the region of the nose, 
which she ate as fast as it was cut off. This, eaten 
raw, is considered a great delicacy. She exhibited 
the same liking for the fat and shreds of meat of the 
bird skins. 

Another member of the group was a boy not more 
than sixteen years old, who was very proud of a 
white canvas cap for which some member of the 
crew had no further use. This cap gave the boy a 
singular appearance, as his long, flowing, black hair 
reached to the shoulders and most of the time cov- 
ered much of his boyish face. I do not know whether 
these young people had met before, but the court- 
ship, was, certainly, a very brief one. The small 
Eskimo population slept in the forecastle. On the 
second or third morning, the boy met me on deck, 
his face all sunshine, and with pride and intense satis- 
faction he pointed to the smiling widow and then 
to his breast, thereby indicating that she now 
belonged to him. I knew then what had hap- 
pened, as actions often speak plainer than words. 
The two, by common consent, without consulting 
any one and without any kind of ceremony, had 
become one. We can hardly call this a wedding. It 
was in reality, as it always is among the Eskimos, 
a mating. These two young people had absolutely 
nothing except the clothes they were wearing, and 
these were by no means new. The Eskimos who 


were living in tents on shore, when informed what 
had occurred, received the news with hearty laughs, 
as though what had happened meant rather a joke 
than a serious step in the lives of the newly mated 
couple. Quietly and unexpectedly as the affair was 
conducted, it seemed to me that the visitors to this 
lonely spot, following a common usage, ought not 
to let this unusual opportunity go by without show- 
ing these savages, by suggestion at least, what a 
wedding should be like. The young couple were 
placed side by side, the captain joined their hands, 
and pronounced the words "TmArt" (man) and "Kuna" 
(woman or wife). They both nodded and smiled, 
and said "E" (yes). Whether this post-nuptial for- 
mality will tie the matrimonial knot more firmly 
and more lasting is very doubtful. We did what 
we could to give them a start in life. The wedding 
presents comprised, among other things, a knife, a 
pair of scissors, needles and thread, comb, tobacco, 
a bar of soap (which will probably be eaten), pieces 
of iron and wood, and a liberal supply of crackers 
and cooked food. 

The Eskimo word for "I thank you" is kuyanaka; 
but it is seldom heard, nor do they express their 
gratitude, as a rule, by any special kind of demon- 
stration. But this couple visibly expressed their 
feeling of appreciation of what was being done for 
them to make the union, for the time being, at least, 
a happy one, as 

"Contentment is a pearl of great price, and who- 
ever procures it, at the expense of ten thousand 
desires, makes a wise and happy purchase." 



The "Roosevelt" was built especially for Com- 
mander Peary at an expense of $100,000, defrayed 
by the Peary Arctic Club. In designing the plans 
for the construction of the ship, the suggestions made 
by Peary, the outcome of a long and varied experi- 
ence in the arctic regions, were made use of. The 
vessel was built by Capt. Charles B. Dix, of Messrs. 
McKay & Dix, of New York City, Greenland ship- 
masters and owners of long standing. The builder's 
model and the rig of the ship, have been worked out 
personally by Captain Dix, and are due entirely to 
him. The machinery was built and installed by the 
Portland Company, of Portland, Maine. The keel 
was laid on October 15, 1904, in the shipyard of the 
firm, who built the vessel at Bucksport, Maine, and 
the ship was launched the 23rd of March, 1905. 
The installation of the machinery began two days 
later at Portland, and was practically completed in 
less than two months. 

The official measurements of the ship are as fol- 
lows: Length, 184 feet; breadth, 35^ feet; depth 
i6i feet; gross registered tonnage, 614 tons; maxi- 
mum load displacement, about 1,500 tons. The 
back bone of the ship viz., keel, main keelson, 
stern, and stern-posts, as also her frames, plank 
sheer, the waterways, and garboard strake are of 
white oak. Beams, sister keelsons, deck clamps, 



'tween-deck waterways, bilge strakes, ceiling, and 
inner course of planking are yellow pine. Outer 
planking is white oak, and decks are Oregon pine. 
Both the ceiling and outer course of white-oak plank- 
ing are edge-bolted from stem to stern and from 
plank sheer to garboard strake. The fastenings are 
galvanized iron bolts, going through both courses 
of planking and the frames, and riveting up over 
washers on the inside of the ceiling. 

Special features of the ship are as follows: First, 
in model; a pronounced raking stern and wedge- 
shaped bow; very sharp dead rise of floor, affording 
a form of side which cannot be grasped by the ice; a 
full run, to keep the ice away from the propeller; 
a pronounced overhang at the stern to still further 
protect the propeller, and a raking stern-post. 

Second, peculiarities of construction; the unusual 
fastenings, as noted above; the unusual and massive 
arrangement of the beams, and bracing of the sides 
to resist pressure; the introduction of screw tie-rods 
to bind the ship together; the development of the 
'tween-deck beams and waterways on a water line, 
instead of on a sheer, like the upper-deck beams; the 
placing of the ceiling continuous from sister keelson 
to upper-deck clamps, and the placing of the 'tween- 
deck waterways, deck clamps, and the bilge strakes 
on top of the ceiling ; the filling in of the bow almost 
solid where it meets the impact of the ice; the mas- 
sive and unusual reinforcement of the rudder post 
to prevent twisting; the adoption of a lifting rudder, 
which may be raised out of danger from contact 
with the ice ; the armoring of the stern and bows with 



heavy plates of steel; the protection of the outer 
planking with a 2\ inch course of greenheart ice 

Peculiarities of rig are: Pole masts throughout; 
very short bow sprit, which can be run inboard when 
navigating in ice of considerable elevation; three- 
masted schooner rig with large balloon staysails. 
The "Roosevelt" carries fourteen sails, including 
storm stay-sails, and has a rail area somewhat less 
than that of a three-masted coasting schooner of the 
same size. 

Peculiarities of the machinery installments are: 
A compound engine of massive construction; an 
unusually heavy shaft of forged steel 12 inches in 
diameter; a massive propeller, ioj feet in diameter, 
but with blades of large area, which are detachable 
in case of injury; a triple boiler battery; arrange- 
ments for admitting live steam to the low-pressure 
cylinder, in order to largely increase the power for 
a limited time; an elliptical smokestack to reduce 
wind resistance. 

The above description of the construction of this 
vessel, by the aid of which Commander Peary con- 
fidently expects to realize the ambition of his life, is 
taken from a descriptive pamphlet of the "Roose- 
velt" published by the Peary Arctic Club. A ship so 
well constructed, equipped, and manned, like the 
"Roosevelt," is almost sure to win the race to the 
arctic pole. It is a source of regret that the speed 
of the vessel was reduced by an accident to one of 
the boilers before the battle with ice commenced, but 
the seaworthiness of the craft remains. The inside 


arrangements for comfort and health during the long 
arctic winter have received due attention and have 
been planned and executed to meet all requirements. 


Shortly before Commander Peary left Etah to 
reach a point as far north as possible at this season 
of the year, for the purpose of shortening the dis- 
tance between his winter quarters and the final ob- 
ject of his search the pole he invited myself and 
my companion, Dr. Frederick Sohon, to dine with 
him on board of his vessel. This gave me an excel- 
lent opportunity to see and study some of the most 
important peculiarities of the construction of this 
vessel, which were pointed out and described in de- 
tail by our distinguished host. The commander 
and his officers live in a real house built on the rear 
part of the vessel, which contains a kitchen, a dining 
room, a bath room, and sleeping apartments. All 
of the rooms are well lighted and thoroughly ventil- 
ated. The commander's room is large, elegantly 
furnished, and contains a well-selected library. Mrs. 
Peary and the many friends of the persistent and 
enthusiastic explorer, left nothing undone to make 
his immediate surroundings, during the long and 
trying trip, as pleasant and comfortable as possible. 
A pianola, presented by one of his admiring friends, 
with a great variety of music, amounting to a cash 
value of $300.00, is one of the principal attractions 
of this room, and will contribute much to 
shorten and render more endurable the long winter 
night. The electric lighting of the interior of the 


ship and the sweet music of the pianola will do much 
to counteract the depressing effects of the fierce 
climate and long arctic night. Like other explorers 
of this part of the world have done before, it is the 
commander's object to provide for his crew and the 
natives active exercise and amusement during the 
long winter, to keep up their physical and mental 

The dinner gave me a good idea of what a dinner 
during the holiday season in the arctics is like, as it 
was a genuine arctic affair. The principal course 
was a stuffed and baked walrus heart. It required 
a large plate to serve this dish, as the heart of a wal- 
rus is larger than the head of an adult. It was evi- 
dently not the first time that the excellent cook had 
prepared this novel dish, as it proved, at least for 
me, a great delicacy, and the charming host made 
me eat three liberal portions. A beef heart cannot 
compare with a walrus heart in flavor. It is the 
intention of the commander, when he returns from 
this expedition, to give the members of the Peary 
Arctic Club a real arctic dinner which will include 
this dish, ptarmigan, seal-flippers, musk-ox meat 
and bear-meat roasted, reindeer steak, raw walrus 
liver and slices of blubber, breast of the little auk, 
roast eider-duck, etc., to show them what the arctic 
regions can furnish for the table. 

The secret of success of Peary in his explorations 
of the arctic regions has been his dependence on 
food the country can furnish, and it is due to this 
foresight that the members of his expeditions have 
never suffered from scurvy or any other serious disease. 


The conversation during and after dinner was a 
great mental feast for me, as the host, an enthusiast 
in his undertaking and his deep knowledge of every- 
thing pertaining to the extreme North, spoke freely 
of his work in the past and his plans for the future. 
He is sanguine that this expedition, so well planned 
and thoroughly equipped, will realize the dream and 
expectations of his life. His crew consists of well- 
selected, hardy, reliable and fearless Newfound- 
landers, all of whom have seen much service along 
the coasts of Labrador and Greenland just the kind 
of men best adapted for arctic work. He has been 
equally cautious in the selection of the Eskimos who 
are to accompany him. Many of them, men and 
women, have taken part in one or more of his former 
expeditions. The trustworthiness and efficiency of 
these have been tested and found satisfactory. 


The "Roosevelt" left Etah, Thursday, August 
i ;th, at three o'clock in the morning. The midnight 
sun was shining brightly, the sea was quiet, and 
everything propitious for a good start for the utmost 
northern limits of navigable waters. Commander 
Peary has been making preparations for this expe- 
dition for the last two years. Only one who has 
had personal experience in getting ready for such a 
voyage can understand and appreciate what this 
means. As the inmates of the ship will be en- 
tirely isolated from the outside world and placed on 
their own resources for at best one, if not two or 
even three years, it requires much care and fore- 
thought to stock such a ship to meet the require- 
ments of so many people and for such a long time, 
and to make provision for all kinds of emergencies 
on land and on sea. The building of a special 
vessel for this purpose, the selection of an efficient, 
reliable crew, the purchase of supplies, the recruit- 
ing of Eskimos for service, the collection of a suffi- 
cient number of dogs, and attention to other innu- 
merable minor details are matters which must tax 
severely the good judgment, forethought, and execu- 
tive abilities of the one who is in command of the 
expedition. Commander Peary's long experience in 
the arctic regions, his executive abilities, which are 
of the highest order, his familiarity with the habits 
and customs of the Eskimos, and his knowledge of 



their language are qualifications which fit him admi- 
rably for the arduous task before him. He left Etah 
confident of success. The final preparations here 
made his last days at Etah very onerous. He had to 
look backward and forward. His last messages to 
his family and friends had to be written, and all final 
arrangements for the future made. A few native 
families not desirable for the expedition were left 
here for the winter. He selected for his service only 
men upon whom he can rely, twenty-three in number, 
who, with their families, made the whole number of 
Eskimos on the "Roosevelt" about sixty. One of 
the last things Peary did was to call the roll at mid- 
night. As the names of the natives were called, 
they stepped forward and formed a group on the 
rear end of the deck. Among those who remained 
on the "Roosevelt," I counted seven infants in the 
hoods of their mothers, one or two young widows, 
and several boys from fourteen to eighteen years of 

The center of the deck was occupied by 213 
Eskimo dogs, which were in anything but a peaceful 
disposition. The usual howling, barking, snapping, 
and fighting were worse than any time before, owing 
to the increased number of dogs and the narrowness 
of the space assigned to them. This midnight scene, 
with the two vessels lying side by side in waters at 
the very northern limit of human habitation, it 
would be difficult to describe and impossible to for- 
get. The crew of the "Roosevelt" knew what to 
expect; the natives were as unconcerned as though 
they were merely going to the next hunting ground. 


Most of the provisions were stored on deck in 
order to be readily accessible in case of an accident 
to the ship. The deck was crowded with dogs, 
Eskimos, and crew wedged in between boxes, barrels, 
sledges, kayaks, and coal in bags. The sky was 
cloudless, and the midnight sun smiled on the re- 
markable scene. The "Roosevelt" seemed to groan 
under the heavy cargo which weighed down her gun- 
wales almost to the water's edge; and yet more is to 
go on. Shortly after midnight, she crawled up to 
the side of the "Erik" and several dozen puncheons 
of whale meat, brought from Newfoundland as food 
for the army of hungry dogs, were taken on deck. 

Commander Peary came on board, issued his last 
orders, left his last messages for his family and 
friends, and we bade him good-by and wished him 
Godspeed and a safe return after accomplishing 
the desire of his life. At three o'clock in the morn- 
ing, the whistles of both steamers shrieked the last 
farewell, the stone walls of the fiord echoed and re- 
echoed their shrill voices, the propeller was set in 
motion, and the "Roosevelt" glided out of the fiord 
under a flood of light from the midnight sun and was 
soon lost sight of behind Cape Ohlsen, where her 
course was directed toward Cape Sabine, her first 

The amount of pack-ice in Smith Sound was 
unusually small at this season of the year, and there 
is every reason to entitle us to the hope that the ex- 
plorer will reach it in due time, and that he will meet 
with no insurmountable obstacles on his way further 
north to latitude 83 45' where he intends to remain 


during the winter, and from where he expects to 
make his desperate dash for the pole over the ice by 
the use of dogs and sledges. If he succeeds in bring- 
ing the "Roosevelt" as far north as he has planned, 
he will be only 420 miles from the pole. As he is 
well supplied with dogs and sledges, there is every 
reason to believe that, if no unexpected obstructions 
are met with, he will triumph over the fierce ele- 
ments and will be the first human being to see and 
describe what so many others have sought in vain 
the north pole. From what I have seen of Com- 
mander Peary and his remarkable outfit, I feel 
almost confident that our flag will be unfurled to the 
icy breezes of the north pole in less than a year; and 
I am sure every citizen of the United States will take 
pride in the accomplishment of such a feat by an 
officer of our navy, who, for fourteen years of the 
best part of his life, has exposed himself to so many 
dangers, hardships, and privations to win the race 
for the pole. 


Since the midnight sun has converted night into 
day, we have seen nothing of the lesser lights of 
heaven, the moon and stars, until one o'clock Sunday 
morning, August 2oth. In the meantime, the moon 
had grown to half-size and, at the time mentioned, 
appeared as a very pale hemisphere, however, well 
outlined in the horizon above the sunlit plateau of 
one of the mountains. The sun, low down in the 
horizon, had lost some of his midnight brilliancy 
under the effect of the feeble light of the moon. 

"The sun to me is dark 
And silent as the moon, 
When she deserts the night 
Hid in her vacant, interlunar cave." 

Not a star could be seen. At midnight, the sun 
and moon were rivals in the sky. Fleecy clouds, 
from time to time, veiled the face now of the sun, 
then of the moon. This midnight picture was a 
strange, almost supernatural one. Profound silence 
reigned. The deck of the "Erik" was deserted. 
The Eskimos and crew, with the exception of the 
watchman, were sleeping. The high mountain pla- 
teau was bathed in golden sunlight, the rays of the Sun 
did not reach the more somber fiord. The smooth- 
ness of the water was only disturbed by gentle mur- 



muring ripples, silvered by the dim rays of the rising 
moon. On the surface of the silvery sheet of water 
was seen a perfect image of the moon. The sun 
seemed willing to retire from the midnight contest, 
but could not, as he was infixed in his retiring posi- 
tion by the force of the immutable law which controls 
the movements of the heavenly bodies from the 
time they were first set in motion. The moon was 
rising, and seemed to know that the king of night 
and day would soon have to leave to her the reign 
during the approaching long winter night, when 
she would summon to her aid, in dimly lighting the 
darkness, myriads of the brightest stars. It was a 
friendly contest between the receding, enfeebled 
midnight sun and the ascending, growing moon 
which, in a short time, according to the very nature 
of things, can only end in a victory of the moon over 
the sun, the weaker over the stronger. 

"Incapable of change, nature still 
Recurs to her old habits." 



Any one who has visited the Rocky Mountains 
has been made aware of the effect of the purity 
and rarity of the air on vision. The eye penetrates 
the atmosphere much farther there than in the east- 
ern and middle states, where the air is more dense 
and contaminated by the smoke from myriads of 
chimneys and thousands of manufacturing estab- 
lishments and wandering locomotives and steamers. 
It is the arctic regions, however, that surprise the 
eye of visitors unaccustomed to the absolute purity 
of the air in that part of the world, where dust and 
smoke never have denied it, when it comes to meas- 
ure distances by eyesight. 

Doctor Kane, in speaking of the icebergs, says: 
"In the estimate of both altitude and horizontal 
distance, the iceberg is a complete puzzle. I have 
often started for a berg seemingly within rifle shot, 
and, after rowing for an hour, found its apparent 
position unchanged." 

I have been similarly deceived on many occasions. 
At North Star Bay, when we rounded the singular 
promontory we called Noah's Ark, I saw an almost 
continuous chain of icebergs hugging the east shore. 
They seemed to me within easy range of my Win- 
chester, but it took three hours of hard rowing to 
reach them. 



The atmosphere here is so clear and pure that one 
not accustomed to it invariably underestimates dis- 
tances. Many a time, in walking toward a selected 
point, I was under the impression I could reach 
it in fifteen minutes, when it took me more than an 
hour. If you think a glacier or a cliff is a mile away, 
you will learn to your disappointment before you 
reach it that you have walked three or four miles, 
if not more. Ellesmere Land, twenty-three miles 
away from Etah, across Smith Sound, looks to the 
inexperienced observer to be not more than five or 
six miles away. This deception of distances is a 
great trial to the hunter who follows the chase for 
the first time in this arctic air. Birds which he con- 
siders within easy reach of his gun are in no danger. 
He returns, as I did, from his day's sport disgusted 
with his marksmanship until he has learned to accom- 
modate his sight to an entirely new atmosphere. It 
is advisable for the hunter to do some target shooting 
before he goes for game to avoid the inevitable 
chagrin and useless waste of ammunition. 


The arctic regions have their beautiful realities 
and their disappointing deceptions. They are try- 
ing places for the navigators and hunters. The 
mariner, who relies on his compass in directing him 
in his course, must exercise great caution else this 
instrument of precision will lead him astray. In 
these regions the compass is a fidgety, nervous instru- 
ment. At Etah the westward deviation of the 


needle in the direction of the magnetic pole is so 
strong that in order to go true north the navigator, 
if he relies on the instrument, must sail southeast. 
This fact will surprise the people who are laboring 
under the mistaken notion, as many do, that the 
magnetic pole is located at the north pole and that, 
consequently, the needle always points due north. 

Although Captain Ross undoubtedly discovered 
the magnetic pole in British Columbia in 1831, we 
shall know more about it after the report of Captain 
Amundson is made public. This intrepid explorer 
spent nearly a year in the vicinity of the magnetic 
pole and his observations were made with great 
accuracy and promise to be of the greatest scientific 



Most of the people think of Greenland as a barren 
land where ice and snow forbid any kind of vegeta- 
tion. The visitor who sees Greenland for the first 
time during the midsummer is surprised to find, 
notwithstanding the shortness of the summer and 
the scantiness of the soil, a rich vegetation and a 
great variety of flowers. The midnight sun does 
wonders in the way of awakening and stimulating 
vegetation. Vegetable life is dormant under ice 
and snow for nearly eight months out of the year; 
but, with the appearance of the midnight sun, an 
activity begins unparalleled in any other climate, 
and in a few weeks seeds sprout, the plant develops 
with magic speed, flowers, and ripens its seed for the 
next year. 

The country is treeless. Vegetation consists of 
lichens, mosses, grasses, herbs, and shrubs. Minute 
flowerless plants, of the class of algae, are found 
growing even on ice and snow, where the detritus 
of other plants has accumulated in sufficient quan- 
tity to furnish the necessary nourishment. North 
Greenland is especially very rich in lichens, of which 
the crimson variety (Leprarid) is the most beautiful. 
The ordinary mosses serve the natives a useful pur- 
pose for packing the spaces between the stones of 
their igloos and as a material for lamp wicks. The 



most useful of the mosses is the reindeer moss (Clad- 
onia rangiferina) , as it is the principal winter food 
for the reindeer. It is found along the whole coast 
of Greenland. It is of a silvery white color, even in 
summer. It contains the nutritious lichenin, a form 
of starch. In the fiords in the extreme southwest 
of Greenland, birches and alders attain the height of 
a man. Few of the shrubs are more than a foot 
high and their branches touch the ground. Dwarf 
alder and mountain ash grow as far north as 65; 
the juniper, two degrees higher, and willow 
and birch, often hidden in moss, as far as 72 north. 
I find the willow is the only representative shrub 
from latitude 73 to 78 north, and only in a dwarfed 
condition, varying in height from one inch to not 
more than eight inches. If this shrub attains more 
than two inches in height it is always found reclining 
on the ground. 

The flora of Greenland embraces about 400 
flowering plants and several hundred varieties 
of lichens and mosses. The flora resembles more 
that of Europe than of the American continent. I 
can only speak of the flora of the arctic oasis, extend- 
ing from North Star Bay to Etah along the west 
coast, a distance of about 235 miles, inhabited by 
the Smith Sound Eskimos. This stretch of the 
coast lies between 73 and 78 40' north latitude. 
I found and collected here the following plants: 

Caltha palustris Ranunculus { ^^ 


Nivalis Rumex digynus 

Glacialis Silene acaulis 

Stettaria longipes Cerastium alpinum 




Epilobium augustifolium 
Taraxacum palustre 
Pyrola chloranta 

Papaver nudicaule 
Carex rigida 
Alchemilla alpina 
Diapensia laponica 
Cassiope tetragona 

Of grasses I found: 

Agrostis canina 
Trisetum subspicatum 

Sedum rhodiola 
Vaccinium uliginosum 


Andromeda tetragona 
<?,- / Herbacea 
Sahx \Arctica 
Dryas octopetala 
Cochlearia fenestrata 
Gnaphalium sylvaticum 


/ Arctica 
\ Alpina 

The variety is not great, but when we consider 
that these plants were found growing very near the 
northern limits of vegetation, this small number 
must astonish the uninitiated. While the variety is 
not great, their number was something extraordi- 
nary. In many sheltered places the ground was 
literally covered with flowers, making, with the 
soft, green grass, a variety of mosses, and the ever- 
present colored lichens, a beautiful carpet. 


The heart of the arctics is an ideal place for a 
summer visit. It is, at best, a most desolate, dreary 
region during the long winter night when deserted 
by most animals, and when the ground is covered by 
several feet of snow and the fierce, icy winds rake 
the surface without mercy. After having enjoyed 
the beauties of the far north during the most con- 
genial season of the year, thoughts of the sufferings 
of many arctic expeditions wintering in this neigh- 
borhood occurred to me. The heart of the arctics 
has been the battle-field of the explorers with ice, 
cold, arctic cyclones, hunger, and disease, and is 
the graveyard of many a brave sailor. It is 
here where men's patience, courage, and persever- 
ance have been most sorely tried. 

The "Polaris" was lost in Smith Sound not far 
from Etah. It was at Cape Sabine, in sight of Etah, 
where the Greely expedition endured the hardships 
of a long winter night and fought the pangs of hun- 
ger and endured the ravages of disease, and where 
many of the crew finally succumbed to starvation. 
These battle-fields are not stained with blood, but 
have been made memorable by the courage and 
endurance of men in search, not for wealth and 
power, but engaged in scientific pursuit in an unsel- 
fish attempt to reach the remotest part of the world 
to solve the mysteries of the north pole. The sad 



fate of the "Polaris" expedition and the hardships of 
expedition of Greely 's will furnish, among many others, 
the most striking illustrations of the subject of this 
chapter, familiar to most readers, but of sufficient 
importance to deserve a brief repetition here. For 
more minute details of the catastrophes the reader 
is referred to Munsey's Magazine, 1895. 

The "Polaris," in command of Captain Hall, in 
1872-73, was caught in the ice in Baffin Bay. Ex- 
pecting that any moment the vessel might be crushed, 
the crew encamped beside it on the floes, in two 
parties. Suddenly, as occasionally happens, the ice 
broke aw T ay, and one party found itself drifting from 
the ship and their companions, who were powerless 
to give them any aid. In the strong current of the 
bay, the ice-raft, with its freight of human beings, 
floated away from the Greenland shore. Gradually, 
as it traveled to the south, the ice melted and the 
waves broke it up into smaller fields, necessitating 
its passengers, from time to time, selecting a new 
and smaller floe. The people on the ice numbered 
more than thirty, among them some Eskimos, in- 
cluding two women and several children. A child 
was born during the memorable voyage. This child 
is now the mother of several children and lives in one 
of the settlements of the Smith Sound Eskimos. 
Her father, called Hans, a familiar figure to a number 
of explorers and known for his ability as a guide 
and hunter and for his trustworthiness, has since 

This extraordinary voyage began on the i$th of 
October and ended on the 29th of April following, 


when the passengers were rescued near the coast of 
Labrador by a sealer. In a half -starved condition, 
the people were brought to St. Johns, Newfoundland. 
The ice-floe had carried them nearly 2,000 miles. 
The physical suffering and mental agony of these 
people can be better imagined than described. When 
they were taken on board the sealer, all that was left 
for them to eat was a bear skin, which was cut into 
strips and chewed for what nutritious material it 
contained. The crew of the Greely expedition fared 
even worse than this. 

It had been planned that the object of this ex- 
pedition should be to establish an observation sta- 
tion in Greenland, one of a chain to be maintained 
as near as possible to the pole by several govern- 
ments. The expedition sailed in 1881, and the fol- 
lowing summer supplies were to be sent, and in 1883, 
after two years' work, the party was to be brought 
back. The plans miscarried. The first relief ex- 
pedition, under Beebe, failed to reach Greely 's post. 
A second was equally unsuccessful. The third relief 
party, under Commander Schley, started at the 
earliest possible moment in 1884. 

It was believed that Greely 's provisions would 
have failed him, and that he would have attempted 
to escape southward. A careful watch was kept 
along the shores of Smith Strait, and in June, at an 
old cache, a record was found which contained the 
information that in October, eight months before, 
Greely made his headquarters at Cape Sabine. The 
rescuing party made haste and reached the post 
June 23rd. They met with a most appalling sight. 


When winter overtook Greely's party, their pro- 
visions were nearly exhausted. The fight for life 
was a desperate one. In spite of the most discour- 
aging outlook, discipline was maintained, observa- 
tions were taken regularly, and the commander 
encouraged his men by word and deed. Gradually 
one after another died. At the end of winter, the 
survivors were too weak to move. They had not 
strength left to bury the dead not even, in 
the last days, to remove the dead from the tent, 
which had partly collapsed, and none were strong 
enough to raise it. Seven were still alive, barely 
alive, when help came. Eighteen had perished. 
Another two days would have sealed the fate of all. 
The brave commander was one of the survivors, and, 
when found, said in a faint voice: "Here we are dying 
like men. Did what I came to do beat the best 

The terrible fate of the Sir John Franklin expedi- 
tion, although it occurred more than half a century 
ago, remains fresh in the minds of the people. Not 
a member of the different crews survived to tell the 
story of the expedition, and it required the expendi- 
ture of many fortunes and years of perilous search- 
ing before the bleached skeletons of a number of 
members of the expedition were found, under cir- 
cumstances that proved, only too plainly, that death 
had come to them from starvation. Although, 
according to the statement of Commander Peary, 
the total mortality of all expeditions to the arctic 
regions does not exceed two per cent., it would be 
difficult to estimate the amount of suffering endured 


by those who were obliged to spend one or more 
winters in that land of desolation and darkness, 
utterly cut off from any communication, and thrown 
on their -own resources. 

In consequence of a long experience, recent ex- 
peditions have been fitted- out in a way to prevent 
many discomforts and much suffering. But such 
undertakings cannot be carried out without much 
self-denial and an amount of courage that would do 
credit to a well-tempered veteran soldier. 


Although the weather, during our ten days* so- 
journ in Foulke Fiord, was all that possibly could 
be desired, I observed, during the last few days, 
unmistakable indications of the approach of winter 
in the speedy fading of all flowers and in the yellow 
discoloration of the grass in the most sheltered 
localities. The little pools of water on the high 
mountain plateaus became covered with a thin sheet 
of ice during the night, and icicles formed on the 
edges of crags, over which the water flowed in mini- 
ature cataracts. 

But an earlier notice of the coming of winter 
was given by the best and most reliable weather 
prophet, the little auk. For several days millions 
of these birds, in endless flocks, sailed over the fiord, 
high up in the air near the clouds, in a southerly 
direction. I mistrusted that the southward migra- 
tion had commenced. I went to the rookeries, 
where a few days before, the cliffs were literally cov- 
ered with auks, and found them almost entirely 
deserted. The young generation had learned to 
fly, and joined their parents on their flight to a 
warmer climate. This shrewd bird of the far North 
had timely knowledge of the approaching snow-storm 
and escaped it. by seeking a warmer clime. 



The common guillemot (Cepphus grylle), the blue 
gull (Larus glaucus), and the burgomaster (Lestris 
parasitica, Buffonii) remained in large numbers and 
the little snow-buntings (Emberiza and Plectrophanes) 
twittered about the bare rocks on the mountain 
plateaus as gaily as during midsummer, without a 
thought of escaping the first snowfall. This little 
bird is one of the last to leave the arctic regions, and 
one of the first to return. The most patriotic of all 
arctic birds, is, however, the raven. This bird, 
alone, scorns to change either color or climate. The 
Greenland raven is a magnificent specimen of bird 
life, and how it survives the long, dark, arctic winter 
is a mystery. I was fortunate enough to secure a 
fine specimen in Foulke Fiord just before our de- 


We left Etah, Wednesday, August 23d, at 5:45 
P. M. The increase of the ice-clouds over the water- 
clouds to the north and west above Smith Sound, 
the formation of ice in elevated places, and the ap- 
pearance of a snow-storm, admonished our captain 
of the necessity of leaving this high latitude to avoid 
the risk of being caught in pack-ice, in spite of the 
fact that about 200 tons of coal, intended for the 
Peary expedition, remained in the hold of the ship. 
This coal served as ballast for the ship on the return 
trip, and saved the time that would have been re- 
quired in substituting stone ballast for it. 

When the ship left her anchorage under full 
steam, the Eskimos were standing on the shore in a 
group in front of their tents, surrounded by their 
dogs, and remained motionless until we were out of 
sight. Only the bride of a day climbed up an adja- 
cent cliff, stood for a short time like a statue, and 
then scampered down the steep rocky decline and 
ran in the direction of the settlement. What will 
become of these poor people during the long winter 
so near at hand? God only knows! Their clothing 
was scanty and well worn, their fur supply entirely 
inadequate, and the provisions almost exhausted. 
There remained only two or three first-class hunters. 
The remainder of the settlement was made up of 
old men, women, children, and several infants. 



The walrus had left this part of the coast, and 
only very few seal remained. The supply of ammu- 
nition for the two or three old carbines was small, 
and it was too late for the netting of birds. Fortu- 
nately there are plenty of arctic hare in this vicinity, 
and the natives secure them in stone traps and re- 
serve the ammunition for larger game. The recon- 
struction of the stone igloos had not commenced 
when we left, as the natives prefer to live in tents 
until the severe cold and snow force them into their 
winter quarters. 

The first night out a severe snow-storm overtook 
us, which made it necessary to leave the Greenland 
coast and depend on the unreliable compass as a guide 
in directing the course of the vessel. During the 
evening, we had a fine near view of the dreary 
coast of Ellesmere Land, in full view of Cape 
Isabella, and in the distance we could make out 
distinctly, with the aid of glasses, Cape Sabine. 
Ellesmere Land is buried under ice and snow through- 
out the entire year, with the exception of some of 
the cliffs along the coast and the black, bare moun- 
tain peaks that project high above the level of the 
billowy ocean of ice, which the warmth of the mid- 
night sun uncovers for a short time during the sum- 
mer. Some of the mountains in the interior appear 
to be very high, at least from 4,000 to 5,000 feet 
above the level of the sea. The numerous bare, 
black peaks appeared like so many pyramids on a 
foundation of eternal ice. The evening sun peeped 
from time to time through the fleecy, golden clouds, 
and his soft, slanting rays smiled upon this stern, un- 


inviting domain of ice, snow, and black rocks, pro- 
ducing a strange, almost weird, illumination pleasing 
to the eye from a distance, but forbidding on nearer 
approach. The very breath from this land of ice 
chilled the atmosphere and reminded us of the ter- 
rors of the climate of the farthest North. This coast, 
so freely exposed to the winds from the polar region, 
is much colder than the west coast of Greenland, 
the climate of which is moderated by the indirect 
Gulf Stream from the south. This is why most of 
the explorers make their winter quarters at or near 
Etah, and not at Cape Sabine on the opposite side 
of Smith's Sound. 

The whole aspect of Ellesmere Land reminds 
one of 

"Fierce Boreas, with his offspring, issues forth 

T' invade the frosty wagon of the North.'! 


"Liest thou asleep beneath those hills of snow? 

Stretch out thy lazy limbs; awake, awake! 
And winter from thy furry mantle shake." 


Toward morning, the snow-storm subsided, the 
atmosphere cleared up, and, on our way to Godhavn, 
we saw much of the coast of Greenland after Elles- 
mere Land was out of sight. The Greenland coast, 
south of Etah, is a range of table mountains, varying 
little in height, intersected by fiords and ravines, 
most of them beds of glaciers, large and small, leaders 
of the great interior ice-cap, the silvery surface of 
which is almost constantly in sight from the deck of 
the steamer when a few miles out. 



The first night and day out from Etah, we en- 
countered numerous icebergs, all of them showing 
the effects of the summer sun, the melting rays of 
which, combined with the erosive action of the 
waves, had sculptured them into most fantastic 
forms. These colossal masses of pure ice have a 
rectilinear groove at the water line, hollowed out by 
the action of the waves, their tunnel-like roofs often 
pendent with icicles. The thawing action of the 
sun had worn away the brilliant fractured surfaces, 
changing the whole mass into a color of frosted silver. 
Doctor Kane says: "An iceberg is one of God's 
own buildings, preaching its lesson of humility to 
the miniature structures of man." Any one who 
has seen the great army of icebergs sailing along 
the coast of Greenland will indorse this beautiful 

Many of these giants were in a state of far ad- 
vanced disintegration, and the surface of the water 
was covered with their mangled remains. Many of 
the survivors showed cracks and fissures, several 
feet in width, ready at any moment to break up into 
,a thousand fragments, an occurrence which we had 
an opportunity to witness a number of times, by a 
thundering noise and much splashing and foaming 
at the seat of disaster. With a thundering detona- 
tion, the fracture or parting of the main mass takes 
place, followed by sharp reports caused by the break- 
ing up of these colossal fragments into smaller ones. 
A part of the iceberg remains and sways like a ship 
in a storm, while the detached masses fall in all di- 
rections, sending splashing, foam-crested waves high 


up into the air from the places where they momen- 
tarily disappear under the water and where they 
rise to the surface again. In a few minutes, this 
local commotion in the water is followed by a calm, 
and the astonished observer finds the foam-covered 
surface strewn with fragments of all sizes and shapes 
and what remains of the iceberg, slowly on the way 
of finding its new balance, reminding one very much 
of the floating wreck of a ship. 

Thursday morning, at eight o'clock, we passed 
Carey Islands. The weather was chilly, the sky 
overcast with swiftly moving gray clouds, and dur- 
ing the forenoon, and again in the evening, we had 
quite a severe snow-storm, with biting winds, in 
consequence of which the thermometer dropped to 
35 F. As we entered Melville Bay in the evening, 
we left the icebergs behind us and saw no traces of 
pack-ice. In crossing the bay we were two days 
out of sight of land. 


"I 'gin to be aweary of the sun." Shakespeare. 

All pleasures in this world are of short duration. 
Not infrequently, anticipation affords more pleasure 
than the reality. The mind, like the stomach, has 
its likes and dislikes, its periods of activity and re- 
pose, its pleasures and ailments, its hunger and 
thirst, and sense of satiation. The stomach soon 
tires of the most delicate articles of food if indulged 
in day after day. Who is there who can enjoy, for 
any length of time, the delicious speckled trout or 
the savory quail on toast, if eaten. daily? It requires 
a vigorous and patient stomach to enjoy such culi- 
nary treats for more than two or three days in succes- 
sion. The active mind must be given a variety of 
mental food to guard against indigestion. The 
mental appetite is as capricious as that of the stom- 
ach, and, to keep it in a good, healthy condition, it 
must be provided with food it can digest and assim- 
ilate. A monotony, an exclusiveness in mental diet, 
is as repugnant to the mind as a sameness of food is 
to the stomach. Variety of food and congenial 
employment is what mind and body crave for, and 
on which they thrive. 

When I was in Egypt and the Holy Land, the 
camel was to me the most interesting of all animals. 
It was something new to me. It is a homely beast, 
but when a caravan came in sight I could not keep 

2 93 


my eyes off of these patient carriers of burden, 
these ships of the desert. At first I saw the sunny 
side of this, to me, new animal. As days and weeks 
passed by, the camel lost its charms for me. By 
that time, I noticed more the anterior surface of its 
chafed, and often bleeding knees, the grunting, and 
labored getting up and lying down in slow response 
to the urging of the unfeeling driver. I have no 
desire to see camels again. 

In the tropics, I was fascinated by the graceful, 
feathery palms, with their clusters of golden, oily, 
giant nuts. I was, also, deeply interested in the 
natives, their customs, and habits. But in a few 
weeks, all these things had lost their attractions and 
I was longing for our shady elms and maples, and 
for people decently dressed and busy in doing some- 
thing good for themselves or for somebody else. 

I have seen the glaciers of the Swiss Alps, Alaska, 
and Norway, playthings compared with those of 
Greenland; hence my interest in these rivers of ice 
was reawakened when brought face to face with 
these almost constant features of the arctic Alps. 
But in the course of a few short weeks, they all 
looked alike to me and were passed by without 
giving them the attention their picturesque grandeur 
and beauty deserved. The same is true of icebergs, 
such a novel sight at first; but it does not take long 
for this sense of novelty to wear away. When we 
see them by the hundreds and thousands, day 
after day and week after week, we soon give them 
but a passing glance, as though we had lived among 
them since our childhood days. 


It is a rare privilege to see the midnight sun. I 
saw him in all his glory from the summit of North 
Cape, Norway, but was delighted, yes, charmed, to 
see him again in another part of the world, much 
nearer the north pole, in a new frame and shining 
upon an arctic foreground. Night after night, I 
studied and admired the pictures he painted on land 
and sea, clouds, rocks, ice, and snow, exquisite arctic 
panoramas which enchant the soul. But the mid- 
night sun has his detractions as well as attractions. 
He changes the regular order of daily affairs by 
transforming night into day. For more than a 
month we have been having 

"The live-long day," Shakespeare. 

A whole month of continuous daylight and sun- 
shine is well calculated to unsettle the customary 
habits of a person coming from a part of the world 
in which the midnight sun never makes his appear- 
ance. The continuous daylight makes it almost 
impossible to distinguish between the time set aside 
for work and rest and one finds it difficult to make 
out whether he is going to breakfast, dinner, or supper, 
and without the use of a printed timekeeper one is 
apt to lose track of the days of the week and the 
day set aside for rest. The midnight sun is a spur, 
a goad which is applied to man and beast to be 
about, wide-awake, at work. He chases away sleep; 
he hates sleep. He is laboring under the firm con- 
viction that while he reigns in the arctic regions it 
is the time for work and not for sleep. He is deter- 
mined that nature and man should rest and sleep 
during his long absence. 


The Creator intended day for work; night for 
rest and sleep. In the arctic regions, a restful, 
natural sleep is out of the question as long as the 
midnight sun is the sole master of the firmament. 
Try and create an artificial night by excluding light 
and it remains daylight as far as sleep is concerned. 
Close your eyes and the light of the midnight sun 
penetrates the eyelids and will keep you awake. 

Doctor Kane, the famous explorer, has this to 
say of the prolonged effects of the midnight sun : 

"The perpetual light, garish and unfluctuating, 
disturbed me. I became gradually aware of an un- 
known excitant, a stimulus, acting constantly, like 
the diminutive of a cup of strong coffee. My sleep 
was curtailed and irregular; my meal hours trod 
upon each other's heels and, but for stringent 
regulations of my own imposing, my routine would 
have been completely broken up." 

I can now say, after having contemplated with 
admiration the midnight sun for a month by day and 
the greater part of the sunlit nights, 

"I 'gin to be aweary of the sun." 
and add, with a longing heart and earnest wish: 

"Come, civil night, 

Thou sober- smiled matron, all in black.". 

I loved the midnight sun on my hunting trips 
because he set no limit to the time for return; but 
after my return, sometimes nearly at midnight, 
weary and in need of rest, he kept me awake, or, at 
least, would permit only short naps tinged with 


dreams of real or imaginary things. Last night, 
August 24th, we could have seen the midnight sun 
for the last time had the frosty, snow-laden clouds 
not hidden his parting glance. 

Tonight, at midnight, there will be twilight for 
a brief space of time, while the horizon in the east 
and in the west, so near to each other at this time 
and in this latitude, will be effulgent with the rays of 
the setting and the rising sun. This twilight will soon 
grow into a welcome night as we journey southward, 
and we are as anxiously looking for the somber night 
as we were for the midnight sun on our upward trip. 
When it does come, we may expect what we have 
missed for a month: 

"The timely dew of sleep." Milton. 

At midnight, the sky presented a beautiful sight, 
The darkness was sufficient to make it necessary to 
supply artificial light for the compass to enable the 
man at the steering gear to keep the ship in correct 
course. For the first time in weeks, the lamps in 
the dining room were lit. During the evening, the 
sun was hidden behind a bank of clouds in the north, 
stretching from east to west. In the center of this 
dark veil, at a point corresponding with the location 
of the sun, great transverse streaks, the color of new 
gold, decorated the sky; later, as the clouds moved 
lazily northward, their free margins became fringed 
with a border of gold, while in the east and west a 
rosy tint extended far beyond the margins of the 
clouds, familiar pictures in the sky, announcing the 
setting and rising of the sun. The remaining part 


of the sky was painted a very pale blue, and only 
here and there partly obscured by fleecy, fleeting 
clouds sailing through the lower strata of the air. 

At eleven o'clock, I saw the moon in the north- 
east in the form of a crescent of old gold. Two 
bright, sparkling stars accompanied the queen of the 
new-born night. 

"The stars hung bright above, 
Silent, as if they watch'd the sleeping earth." 


The somber, dark, gold-fringed bank of clouds 
that veiled the dying midnight sun, with the delicate 
pale blue sky in the foreground, the golden sickle of 
the moon, and the two stars accompanying her in 
the freshness and brilliancy of their youth, only 
partly obscured from time to time as the thin, trans- 
parent sheets of fugitive clouds raced over them, was 
a picture that only nature can paint, and only under 
extraordinary circumstances, when the three lights of 
heaven co-operate in harmony. 

Early in the morning of Saturday, August 26th, 
we were again in sight of the stern, rugged coast of 
Greenland, after having crossed Melville Bay. The 
weather continues ideal for this latitude; a gentle 
breeze from the south just sufficient to impart to the 
"Erik" a soothing, rocking motion. If it were not 
for the chilly wind, overcoats would be superfluous. 
The foothills of the coast range of mountains appear 
here, in the form of numerous small islands all along 
the coast. 


We are now opposite Upernavik, until now the 
most northern of the Danish settlements, and hope 
to reach Godhavn tomorrow (Sunday) morning. As 
we come nearer these settlements, I appreciate, more 
and more, the isolation of the northern part of the 
west coast of Greenland, inhabited by the Smith 
Sound Eskimos. These people have only a very 
faint idea of the world beyond. The only informa- 
tion, out of reach of their vision and beyond their 
limited travel, has come to them through the ships 
of the explorers and an occasional whaler. I found 
only one Eskimo who had made a trip over land and 
ice as far as Upernavik, where he traded fur for a 
cheap muzzle-loading shot-gun, an undertaking of 
which he feels proud. 

These Eskimos have lived here, undoubtedly, for 
centuries, before they were discovered by the ex- 
plorers, completely isolated from the Eskimos of 
Southern Greenland and on the American continent. 
They know nothing about mail, printing-press, 
money, telegraph, or telephone, and their knowledge 
of things is confined to what they see and hear in 
their narrow sphere of life. And yet they consider 
themselves as the people, Innuit, and the whites as 
strangers, Kablunah. Attempts to tell them some- 
thing of the men and things in the great world 



beyond their vision have not ^always succeeded in con- 
vincing their simple minds of the truth of the state- 
ments. One man told them that in some of our 
great cities inhabited by millions of people, more 
than twenty-one igloos were built one on top of the 
other, and all of them occupied, making a great igloo 
as high as some of their mountains. Another one 
told them about talking over a wire thousands of 
miles and the speed of our railways. These stories 
were listened to with childish interest, but the men 
who told them lost their reputation for veracity for- 
ever among the Eskimos. Think of a country where 
there is nothing to read, to which there is no access, 
and from which there is no escape, except every year 
or two by a tramp whaler, or an occasional vessel of 
an explorer, and you will have some idea of the 
solitude and extent of isolation of the heart of the 
arctic region. 

In calling at Godhavn on our return trip, we feel 
that; we will soon be again in the outskirts of civil- 
ization, although we do not expect that a lighthouse 
will guide us in finding the harbor, or to hear from 
home, for even here the people must be content 
with three mails a year. What a sense of relief and 
satisfaction the arctic explorer must experience, 
when, after an absence of a year or two, he reaches 
this outpost of civilization. 

Prolonged isolation in a remote part of the world, 
excluded from the influences of civilization and one 
of its greatest blessings the press, is productive 
of mental starvation of which there is no better 
proof than the lives and habits of the Eskimos living 


north of the Danish settlements. A prolonged stay 
in that severe climate, aggravated by the long winter 
nights, must have a depressing influence on the 
minds and bodies of the men who venture to go there 
in search of the pole. The mind of more than one 
man has been upset under these trying conditions 
of arctic life. Even the Eskimos, habituated to the 
climate and the conditions it creates, not infrequently 
become nervous and hysterical toward the end of 
winter, after having suffered in body and mind the 
baneful consequences of prolonged confinement, 

"The' night is long that never finds the day.". 



Omenak Fiord is one of the great fiords of the 
west coast of Greenland. It is a wide, almost bay- 
like, inland arm of the sea, eighty miles in length, 
and the center of a magnificent Alpine scenery. 
Near the head of the fiord is Omenak Island, the 
seat of an old Danish settlement of considerable 
importance. The coast north of Omenak Fiord is 
made up of a high, precipitous mountain mesa, with 
numerous little islands in the foreground. Some 
distance north of the fiord, the shore presents an 
entirely different aspect. The mainland, here, breaks 
up into high, sharp-peaked, snow and ice-clad moun- 
tains. Beyond the innumerable cones, wrapped in 
their draperies of silver, rises the great inland ice- 
cap. At five o'clock in the evening, when we neared 
Omenak Fiord, the sky was overcast, the great 
expanse of water to the west appeared dark and 
gloomy while the sun lit up the sea of ice and the 
countless mountains in the foreground. The re- 
flection of the rays of the sun from the ice and snow 
made colors in gold, silver, and alabaster; and in 
many places the new ice glittered like diamonds. 

We were here given a splendid opportunity to 
compare, once more, the water-clouds with the ice- 
blink. The clouds hovering over the open water 
were dark, almost black; those over the great inland 
ice almost white, with a slight tinge of brownish gray. 



The north coast of Omenak Fiord resembles very 
much, in its configuration, the wild chaos of peaks 
and crags of the Swiss and Tyrolean Alps, viewed 
from a high point of observation. It presents a 
real Alpine scenery on a grand scale. In crossing 
the fiord, we were again among prodigious icebergs. 
Omenak Fiord is the most remarkable locality, in 
the production of icebergs, on the face of the globe. 
Doctor Kane has seen here floating mountains of 
ice 200 feet high; and if we estimate, as he did, that 
the submerged part of the berg is seven times greater 
than that above the water, we obtain a more defi- 
nite idea of the immensity of these wandering frag- 
ments of the glaciers which reach this bay. 

Next morning, Sunday, August 2yth, we were 
sailing along the west coast of Disco Island. A 
cloudy sky and drizzling rain made it difficult to 
identify the landmarks of the coast, which serve as 
guides to the little harbor of Godhavn. 


Disco is a large island in the bay of the same 
name. As Peary said of Saunder's Island, I can 
say of this one, it looks like "a Titan agate set in 
lapis lazuli." Its inland ice-cap, numerous small 
glaciers, deep fiords, precipitous, inland, snow-clad 
mountains, and the army of icebergs surrounding it, 
and reflecting a lazulite blue, make up a picture of 
exquisite beauty and majestic grandeur. For miles, 
the coast of this island, near Godhavn, appears like 
a bastion, rising almost perpendicularly from the sea 
to the height of 500 to i ,500 feet. This wall of basalt 
rock appears as though it had been constructed by 
the hand of man. It is composed of immense, regu- 
arly cut stones cemented together with a reddish 
mortar. Time and the elements have carved the 
face of the rock into most fantastic designs. Frost 
and thaw have softened the hard face, and the 
dribbling water, passing like tears over it, has 
washed away the debris and carried it to the base of 
the wall, where it has accumulated for ages and forms, 
almost at regular intervals, immense gray mounds, 
that look from a distance like ash-heaps from a fur- 

On the surface of the mesa, and especially in the 
valleys and on the shore, where a little soil has 
formed, a scanty growth of grass appears here and 
there in the form of pale green patches, which re- 

20 305 


lieve, somewhat, the severity of the otherwise bleak, 
dreary aspect of the landscape. Flocks of eider- 
ducks, gulls, and kitti wakes enliven the air and sur- 
face of the water. During the afternoon, the driz- 
zling rain ceased, the gray clouds broke and dispersed, 
and, although the thermometer only registered 42^ 
F., the icy wind from the inland ice-cap made it 
necessary to make use of an overcoat when on deck. 


The harbor of Godhavn is in an out-of-the-way 
place, and not an easy one to find. Following the 
coast at half speed, we discovered the first un- 
mistakable landmark leading to it, a narrow, rocky, 
projecting strip of lowland with an immense erect 
boulder, painted red, at its head, and with a white 
Roman cross painted on its face on the side of the 
entrance into a small bay. As we entered this little 
bay, we saw a small schooner disappear to the right, 
presumably into the harbor. The steamer's whistle 
soon brought out a large row boat manned by half 
a dozen natives. The Eskimo pilot came on board, 
and, although he could not speak a word of English, 
skillfully directed the course of the ship. 

At the head of the little bay a very narrow chan- 
nel leads into the little harbor. The harbor is land- 
locked, separated from the ocean on the opposite 
side by a low narrow bar over which the waves leap 
into the harbor when the sea is high and the wind 
in the direction of the island from that side. The 
harbor is deep, but so small that it could not ac- 
commodate more than three or four ships of the size 
of the "Erik." It was evening when the anchor 
dropped near the middle of the harbor. On entering 
the harbor, we passed a number of kayaks. Their 
inmates, mostly boys and girls, were engaged in 



fishing for cod, and later brought us the day's catch 
in exchange for crackers, pork, and other eatables. 


I was very anxious to see Godhavn, after seeing 
and studying the Smith Sound Eskimos, in order to 
learn from my own observations the effects of civi- 
lization on the Eskimo race. Commander Peary 
very kindly granted my urgent request and ordered 
the captain of the "Erik" to put in at Godhavn on 
the return trip, provided the weather permitted him 
doing so without taking additional risks. He gave 
me, at the same time, a letter of introduction to the 
inspector of North Greenland. As it was late in the 
evening, and a drizzling rain again set in, we re- 
mained on board. We learned that the little schoon- 
er we had seen, before coming to the harbor, was a 
government vessel, just returned from a sail to Eged- 
esminde, with Governor Mathiesen on board. The 
little craft was anchored near the "Erik," the only 
two vessels in the harbor. 

Godhavn is located on a gneissoid spur, off- 
setting from the larger mass of Disco. The low 
tongue of land is strewn all over with immense boul- 
ders, with little shallow patches of soil in isolated 
places among the rocks. In the rear of the harbor, 
mountains, which were at this time in a garb of new 
snow, rise to the height of at least 2,000 feet. Near 
the talus of the highest mountain, and on the edge 
of the harbor, is a solid, one-story stone building 
which is the rendering establishment of the settle- 
ment and not in use at this season of the year. The 


village is located on the opposite side of the harbor. 
The houses of the inspector of North Greenland and 
the governor of Disco District are comfortable and 
substantial one-story frame buildings with high 
gable roofs. A miniature garden is attached to each 
of them. The huts of the natives are small frame 
buildings, and some of them are walled in, in part 
at least, with turf. There are no streets, the homes, 
some twenty in number, being scattered over a con- 
siderable surface. The entire population does not 
exceed eighty-five. 

The inspector was absent, having returned to 
Denmark for the winter, as is his usual custom. 
The governor acted as his substitute during the win- 
ter, besides attending to his own duties as store- 
keeper for the district, which comprises Disco Island 
and some of the small inhabited islands in Disco 
Bay three or four settlements in all. The Danish 
flag had been transferred from the flagstaff in front 
of the inspector's house to the one in front of the 
governor's house. The government buildings,, be- 
sides the residences of the two officials, consist of 
store houses, rendering establishment, and brewery; 
the business places being the property of the Royal 
Greenland Company. The brewery is conducted by 
natives, and the beer brewed does not contain any 
alcohol, but is a refreshing, pleasant beverage and 
is sold to the Eskimos at eight kroner a keg. The 
sale of liquor in all of the settlements is prohib- 
ited by stringent laws, consequently the vice of 
drunkenness is unknown. 

The day after our arrival, I called on the govern- 


nor, and, in his company, visited the public buildings, 
brewery, schoolhouse, the little church, and a number 
of huts of the natives. These huts have retained 
some of the features of the igloo. The windows are 
few and small. The roofs are made of corrugated 
iron or slate. The doors are very narrow and low. 
The interior is generally divided into two compart- 
ments, one is the living and bedroom, the other, the 
kitchen and storehouse. The common family bed 
is a wooden platform, about two feet high, taking in 
the whole width of the room. The bedding consists 
of furs, mostly tanned sealskins, as bear and reindeer 
in this part of Greenland are very scarce. 

Much of the animal food is cooked, which may 
account for occasional attacks of scurvy during the 
long winter months. This, however, always dis- 
appears in the spring when the natives can secure 
narwhal and white whale. The skin of these animals 
is eaten raw and, like the Eskimos of Smith Sound, 
is relished as a great delicacy. The houses are 
heated by stoves turf being used as fuel. 

One of the most striking effects of civilization 
on these people has been to make them respect and 
practise cleanliness. They are clean in person and 
in their houses. The men wear sealskin trousers, 
short boots of the same material, and jackets with 
hoods made either of sealskin, or, during the summer, 
of cloth. Underclothing of eider-duck skins or 
woven material is most generally worn. The women 
and girls are exceptionally well dressed. They wear 
hip boots of many bright colors, jupe, collars and 
hair bands of beadwork. They part their hair in 



the middle and tie it tastily in a knot over the back 
of the head. 

There has been so much Danish blood infused 
into the Eskimo race here and elsewhere in the Dan- 
ish settlements that they have lost most of the strik- 
ing features of the aborigines. The malar prom- 
inences are less marked, diminishing the flatness 
of the face, which has become elongated. The skin 
has lost much of its swarthiness, and blue eyes and 
red hair are by no means uncommon. If most of 
these people were seen in Copenhagen, no one would 
mistrust their Eskimo origin, One can see here 
men with blond beards, fair skin, and blue eyes, who 
bear no resemblance whatever to the Eskimos of the 
far North, and yet for generations their ancestors 
have lived in Greenland. The women have aban- 
doned their savage customs. They cannot ride the 
kayak, and no longer cure skins by chewing them. 
They are excellent seamstresses and use thread in- 
stead of the sinews of the narwhal. 

In many respects civilization has bettered their 
condition. They are all Lutherans and regular 
churchgoers. The settlement has a neat, tiny 
church in which service is held every Sunday. A 
Danish missionary visits the settlement twice a year, 
and between his visits the school master, a native 
educated in Greenland, conducts the service by re- 
citing a prayer, conducting the singing, and by read- 
ing a chapter from the Bible. 

The little frame schoolhouse contains four small 
desks with as many equally rough, unfinished benches 
which afford scant space for the twenty-two little 


children who receive their rudimentary education 
here. Higher education < for the natives is provided 
for at Julianahaab, where missionaries conduct a 
seminary and where a small printing establishment 
is located. The books published in the Eskimo 
language are: Bible, Testament, catechism, song- 
book, primary reader, and a pamphlet on first aid. 
As there are only a very few educated physicians in 
Greenland, this pamphlet is a great help to the 
people living far away from medical aid. Mr. Ger- 
hard Kleist, the schoolmaster, is one of the swarth- 
iest of the Eskimos here. He is not only a good 
schoolmaster, but a skilled carpenter. His salary 
is 500 kroner ($135.00) a year, which is paid out of 
a fund of a missionary society. He is a man of 
middle age, the happy father of nine robust chil- 
dren, and is living in his little house that he built 
himself, near the schoolhouse. His three oldest 
daughters are charming girls, the belles of Godhavn. 
Accompanied by their father, they came on board 
in the evening to return our visit. They were 
dressed in their best and entertained us by singing 
sweetly one of their favorite church songs. The 
father took considerable pride in informing us that 
the short beaded capes they wore cost him a pound 
apiece. It appears from this that marriageable 
daughters make family expenses high, even among 
the Greenland Eskimos. 

The "Erik" was the first foreign ship to enter 
this harbor within the last three years, and the new 
governor, Mr. O. J. F. Mathiesen, very recently ap- 
pointed, was given the first opportunity to make 


use of his official power in dealing with the outside 
world. He was born in Godhavn thirty-five years 
ago. His father and mother emigrated from Den- 
mark to Greenland in 1870. He attended school 
for six years in Copenhagen. It was a source of 
great disappointment to me that he could speak 
neither German nor French, as his knowledge of 
English was so very limited that I experienced great 
difficulty in obtaining from him the desired infor- 
mation on many subjects, more especially on the 
effects, immediate and remote, of civilization on the 
Eskimos. The situation was made more painful 
by his labored efforts to comply with my request. 
He entertained us at his house, showed us through 
all government institutions, visited with us a number 
of the more prominent Eskimo families in the vil- 
lage, and we met everywhere with a most cordial 
reception. In the evening, before sailing, we enter- 
tained the governor on board, and on this occasion 
the murdering of the English language on one side, 
and of the Danish on the other, was something 
frightful. But the strenuous conversation was kept 
up until near midnight. He is a single man, but 
intends to go to Copenhagen next summer to claim 
his bride, who, he says, is willing to return with him 
to this out-of-the-way place. 

The Eskimos of the Godhavn settlement are 
principally engaged in fishing and seal-hunting. 
Rock cod, halibut, and salmon are plentiful. 
In early spring, the seal migrate in large numbers to 
the shores of Disco Bay. Walrus is getting scarce 
in this locality, and last year only one polar bear 


was killed. The reindeer have migrated farther 
north. Ptarmigan, arctic hare, and sea-fowl furnish 
sport for the shot gun. The Danish government 
has acted very wisely in supplying the natives with 
muzzle-loading guns of the same caliber. The piti- 
ful cry for powder is not heard here, and accidents 
occur here less frequently than among the Smith 
Sound Eskimos, most of whom have breechloaders 
of different calibers. 

The coast steamer "Fox" of the Royal Green- 
land Company, that we met in North Star Bay, 
calls here several times during the summer, brings 
supplies and takes away the skins and ivory which 
the natives exchange at the storehouse for the most 
necessary articles with which to supply their house- 
holds. Tobacco, tea, biscuits, soap, thread, pow- 
der, lead, caps, cotton and woolen cloths are the 
articles most in demand. 

Greenland has its own paper money, but no silver. 
The denominations of the paper money suit the 
local market, ranging from one kroner upward. 
The silver which circulates here is Danish coins. 
In making little purchases, the natives would accept 
neither American, Canadian, nor English silver. 
The governor came to our aid and gave us Danish 
for American money. 

Greenland has no postage stamps. The letters 
go to Copenhagen, where the Danish stamps are 
affixed and canceled. The local mail is carried on 
kayaks in the summer and dog sledges in the winter. 
The prohibition of the sale of intoxicating liquors, 
by the government, the education of the children in 



missionary schools, and the Christianization of the 
people by the Lutheran church have borne excellent 
fruit, the evidences of which can be so plainly seen 
in Godhavn. On the other hand, civilization has 
also brought its bad influences. The alterations 
in dress and diet, the living in small, heated huts 
summer and winter, in the same place year after 
year, could not fail in slowly undermining the vigor 
and health of the people. 

Godhavn is in need of a dentist. Its inhabitants, 
in consequence of modernizing their manner of 
living and eating, have lost the splendid teeth of the 
real Eskimo. The real Eskimo has teeth as perfect 
as his dogs, exempt from malformation and disease, 
and only subject to a gradual wearing away from 
use. The only case of toothache and. swollen cheek 
I saw among the Eskimos was at Godhavn. Irregu- 
larity of teeth, caries, or loss of teeth, never seen 
among the real Eskimos, are seen as frequently in 
Godhavn as in any of our communities. The wear- 
ing of hats and caps, instead of the loose hood, has 
proved here, as elsewhere, a menace to the vigorous 
growth of hair which ornaments the scalp of every 
Eskimo, as I saw among the limited number of 
adults at least three persons, two men and one 
woman, bald, and all of these were blonds and had 
blue eyes, the most degenerate kinds of Eskimos. 
Then, too, the taste of civilization brings ever- 
increasing desires and longings for something new; 
and attempts to gratify them, a corresponding in- 
crease of family expenses and additional cares, to 
say nothing of the chagrin and disappointments 


if they cannot be satisfied. The fewer the needs, 
the greater the contentment; while the craving for 
something difficult to acquire, or entirely out of 
reach, is the mother of worry and discontent. And 
we must not forget: 

"Pleasure blinds, so to say, the eyes of the 
mind, and has no fellowship with virtue. " Cicero. 


"Happiness and misery are the sources of the 
two extremes, the utmost bounds whereof we 
know not." Locke. 

We can say, in brief, that civilization has had a 
salutary effect on the mental status and morals of 
the Eskimos on the one hand, while, on the other, 
it has resulted in a deplorable physical degeneration 
and a vastly increased receptivity to disease. God- 
havn is a good place to purchase little souvenirs, 
which the natives make, such as toy kayaks, dog 
sledges, purses and slippers of seal skin, etc. 


Denmark guards the ports of entrance of this 
possession with scrupulous care for the purpose of 
holding the monopoly of trade and as a precaution 
against the introduction of contagious and infec- 
tious diseases. I here give a few extracts from the 
regulations which govern the entrance of foreign 
vessels into any of the ports of Greenland, a copy of 
which is given to the master of every ship entering 
a port: 


By treaties made between the Royal Danish 
Government and the United States of America, 
Great Britain, and other states, it is recognized 
that the Danish colonies, with all coasts and 
islands belonging thereto, on the west coast 
of Greenland, which colonies presently ex- 
tend from 60 to 74 30' north latitude, 
are closed to navigation to foreign vessels (as 
well as to Danish vessels) unless special permis- 
sion has been obtained from the Danish Gov r 
eminent holding the monopoly of trade in 


According to Danish law, any vessel sailing 
on the west coast of Greenland without leave, 
shall be liable to be seized, wherever met with, 
and the vessel and cargo to be forfeited. 

3 1 ? 


Similar punishment may be applied when any 
person is found trading with Greenlanders or 
Danish colonists from any vessel lying in any 
port of Greenland, or off the said coast. 


Any shipmaster, compelled by shipwreck or 
other similar cause to seek refuge in any port 
of Greenland, shall only remain in port so long 
as is absolutely necessary, and shall obey any 
order given him by the local authorities. * * * 


Watering without special leave shall only 
take place at the colony of Holstenborg, Uper- 
navik, and the settlement of Godhavn, and in 
all cases a bill of health must be presented to 
the local authorities either by the shipmaster 
or the ship surgeon. If there be any contagious 
disease on board any vessel, the Greenland 
authorities shall take all necessary measures to 
prevent the disease from spreading among the 
native population, and may order the vessel to 
proceed to another watering-place. The ship- 
master shall at once obey all orders given him by 
the said authorities. In order to avoid the 
spreading of any disease, it shall be prohibited 
to dispose of or sell any used wearing apparel, 
used bedclothes, and similar things, to the 
native population of Greenland or to the Danish 


The prohibition against navigating on the 
west coast of Greenland and the monopoly of 
trade purport to protect the native population of 
Greenland, which will be threatened with ruin 
in case contagious diseases should spread 
among them, or in case it should be permitted 
to import alcoholic drinks or other similar goods. 


The regulations in the present form came into force 
March, 1905. 

These wise and timely precautions to protect the 
natives against outside diseases have been very 
effective. As far as I could learn, pulmonary 
tuberculosis, so common in Denmark, has not as 
yet gained a foothold here. There is no case, at 
least at present, in Godhavn, and I saw no indica- 
tions of glandular, bone, or joint tuberculosis. Three 
years ago all of the natives and colonists living on 
the west coast were vaccinated. A year ago 
typhoid fever broke out in one of the colonies. It 
proved very fatal to the Danes, while all the natives 
recovered. Venereal diseases are not as prevalent 
here as among the real Eskimos, and appear to pur- 
sue a comparatively mild course. I saw no indica- 
tions of rickets, either in the adults, children, or 
infants. Scurvy makes its appearance occasionally 
toward the latter part of winter, but yields promptly 
to the spring diet of fresh meat, especially the raw 
skin of the white whale and narwhal. 

By government regulation permanent residence is 
reserved, exclusively, for Danish subjects. The 
two races appear to be congenial to each other, and 
instead of the natives becoming Danes, the Danes 
imitate them in their manner of living, and in a 
short time become Eskimos. No efforts are made 
to deprive the Eskimos of their language, and it 
remains the language of the island. Denmark has 
done much toward the civilization of the Eskimos 
and in lifting them to a higher plane in life 
without resorting to any harsh means, and without 


interfering too much with their local affairs. She 
has played rather the part of a loving mother than 
of a stern father. The missionaries are entitled to 
much praise for their untiring labors in bettering 
the spiritual life of these docile, gentle people. 

In this latitude, the midnight sun shines from 
the middle of May to the middle of August. Four 
months out of the year, the sun is out of sight. Ac- 
cording to Governor Mathiesen, the coldest weather 
prevails during the month of March. It is during 
the long winter that the people, in consequence of 
the absence of sunshine, the long confinement in the 
small huts, and especially the lack of fresh meat, 
become anemic and nervous, and sometimes scor- 
butic. With the appearance of sunlight, outdoor 
exercise, and ample supply of fresh seal, walrus, 
and whale meat they recuperate rapidly from the 
effects of the winter's hardships. They are in the 
best physical condition when the winter overtakes 
them again, resembling very much, in this respect 
the hibernating animals. 

Wherever a little soil has accumulated between 
rocks in and about Godhavn, grass grows six to 
eight inches high, and flowers bloom. Lettuce, 
radishes, cucumbers, and some other short-lived 
vegetables could be cultivated successfully, but the 
natives have an inborn repugnance against such 
garden products. What they ask for most, when a 
ship comes into port, is pork, coffee, sugar, tobacco, 
and underwear. In their intercourse with strangers 
they are friendly, polite, and obliging. 


Sunday evening, after anchoring in the harbor 
of Godhavn, a pouring rain set in which continued, 
with but few slight intermissions, for twenty-four 
hours. The male population made use of kayaks 
and two rowboats plying between the ship and the 
shore. Females are prohibited by law to come on 
board of a vessel in port. The three grown-up 
daughters, accompanied by their father, the school- 
master, were the only female visitors on board the 
"Erik;" and this privilege was, undoubtedly, ac- 
corded them by the governor as a mark of special 
favor to the most prominent and influential native 
of the settlement. I shall always remember my 
visit to Godhavn with pleasure, as it was replete with 
interest and gave me, at least, a glimpse of the life 
of the Eskimos who have lived under Danish rule 
for more than two hundred years. 

It is the intention of the Danish government to 
extend its jurisdiction over the entire west coast, 
which will then include the last remnant of the real 
Eskimos now living at and north of Cape York. 
The government has in contemplation, as previously 
stated, the establishment of two additional perma- 
nent settlements, one at North Star Bay, and the 
other near Etah, which, if carried out, will bring the 
entire native population of Greenland under the 
protection of the Danish flag. 

21 321 


After supplying our tanks with fresh water, we 
left Godhavn at noon, Tuesday, August 29th. The 
natives were arranged in groups along the shore, 
and the governor stood in front of his house; all 
eyes following the ship as it passed out of the channel 
and disappeared from their sight behind the rocky 
shore of the peninsula on which Godhavn is located. 
When the Eskimo pilot and his crew left the ship, 
we parted for good with these interesting people. 

A stiff breeze from the north, during the fore- 
noon, swept away the fog and rain clouds and a 
bright sunshine cheered the billowy sea. The air 
and surface of the water teemed with eider-ducks, 
kitti wakes, and ivory gulls. Numerous icebergs 
were resplendent in the sunshine. Most of these 
monsters are the product of the Jacobshavn Glacier 
at the head of Disco Bay. The sun retired at 7 130 
P. M., in the form of a great disc of gold. Just before 
the rim of this golden disc touched the edge of the 
water, a narrow strip of a cloud obscured the upper 
margin, and the effect of reflection, from this partial 
hiding of the sun, produced on the upper margin of 
the cloud an image of the sun, about half the size of 
the sun itself, giving the appearance of two suns of 
unequal size, almost in touch with each other. 

Most of the icebergs we encountered were mere 
wrecks; many of them had lost their balance and 
were leaning over to one side, others were completely 
turned over and were lying on their backs. The 
saddest spectacles were presented by those, which, 
in their youth, had represented in outline a ship 
under full sail, but now were wrecks with stern or 


stem high in the air and the opposite end deeply under 
water. The swaying and rocking movements of 
these shapeless masses of ice, in the restless sea, 
reminded one, vividly, of a wreck at sea. After 
leaving Disco Bay, one of the most productive birth- 
places of icebergs in the world, these, up to now, 
almost constant reminders of the arctic region, dis- 
appeared completely from the surface of the ocean, 
not leaving even a sign of their former existence in 
the form of wreckage. 


An eclipse of the sun had been announced for 
the 2 yth of August. The coast of Labrador was 
to be the place where this event was to be seen to 
the best advantage. For more than four weeks the 
sun was for us the center of attraction, as he had 
been our constant companion. We were anxious to 
see him, for once, shut out from sight by a lesser 
luminary body. We thought of Milton's reference 
to such a rare occurrence: 

"As when the sun, new risen, 
Looks through the horizontal, misty air, 
Shorn of his beams; or from behind the moon, 
In dim eclipse, disastrous torchlight sheds 
On half the nation." 

However, we seemed to be in the wrong place to 
see the eclipse. We were constantly on the lookout, 
and it certainly did not take place on the day pre- 
dicted. The next morning it was cloudy. At 8:30 
A. M., the captain said he could see a blurring 
of a part of the disc of the sun, then visible behind 


a thin veil of clouds. When I came on the deck, I 
thought I could see a shadow in the lower left quad- 
rant of the sun; and, if this was an eclipse, it was a 
very incomplete one. 

On leaving Disco Bay, the course of the vessel 
was set for the coast of Labrador, a little north of 
Battle Harbor, and we soon lost sight of Greenland. 
This part of the voyage was devoid of special interest. 
Davis Strait, which had to be crossed, has not a 
good reputation among sailors. It is a restless, 
quarrelsome body of water, more especially so during 
the month of September. On leaving Disco Bay, 
we were out of sight of icebergs for the first time, 
for any length of time, since we left the Strait of 
Belle Isle on our upward trip. 

The first two days out, a strong breeze from the 
north rendered material assistance in increasing the 
speed of the vessel. When we reached about the 
middle, of Davis Strait, very high and long swells 
from the opposite direction announced the rear 
end of a storm. The little "Erik" now demonstra- 
ted what she could do in the way of pitching. The 
violent heaving of the ocean made her stand on her 
heels and then plunge forward into a great abyss, 
dipping her sharp nose deep into the next wave, 
which, in turn, lifted her into an almost standing 
position. As the wind shifted toward the west, 
the monotonous rocking movements were modified 
into a motion resembling the tortuous windings of 
a screw, a combination of pitching and rolling so 
trying to sensitive stomachs. Before we reached the 
Labrador coast, the wind was again in our favor, 


and contributed much toward hastening our home- 
ward journey and in calming the sea. 

The little auk, that intrepid, hardy bird of the 
arctics, we left behind some fifty miles out from 
Greenland, but the faithful escort of several kinds 
of gulls followed us from coast to coast. We had 
now reached a latitude where the sun sets early 
enough to give place to a long, peaceful night, in the 
shadows of which body and mind find the necessary 
rest. Sunrise and sunset now lent a charm to the 
beginning and close of the day. After a long dawn, 
announcing the approach of a new day, with eyes 
fixed on the eastern horizon, we could say with 
Thomson : 

"But yonder comes the powerful king of day, 
Rejoicing in the east." 

and in the evening, looking in the opposite direction : 

"The downward sun 
Looks out effulgent from amid the flash 
Of broken clouds." 

And after the fading away of the gentle twilight into 
the somber solitude of restful night: 

"In her starry shade 
Of dim and solitary loneliness, 
I learn the language of another world." Byron. 

What a relief it is to get away from the constant 
glitter of the midnight sun, and to return to a lati- 
tude where night invites sleep and repose! Who 
else, but the Almighty Architect of the universe, 
could have created the lights of heaven and regulated 
their course in such a way as to make an equal divi- 


sion of time into night and day, rest and labor, 
where the great mass of people of this world live and 

"It would be labor lost to him, at present, that 
this mighty frame of the world could not be 
maintained without some governor, and that 
this regular course of the stars is not directed 
by chance," Seneca. 

The early dawn brings hope and vigor to the 
toiling masses, and, with the waning day, the soft 
twilight, with its soothing influence, prepares the 
way for a restful, peaceful sleep. 


Sunrise and sunset at sea, when the clouds do 
not veil, too deeply, the face of the rising and set- 
ting king of day, are hours eagerly looked forward 
to, as it is, then, that the sky, broken clouds, and 
the surface of the sea are decorated in colors and 
hues that have never been and never will be repro- 
duced to anything like perfection with the brush 
of the most famous artists. The pictures the sun 
paints are unlike those we see in our most famous 
collections of art. The former are living, moving, 
ever changing pictures; the latter are dead, fixed 
immovably on canvas by rude paints, lacking all 
the delicate hues which impart such characteristic 
charms to the former. A sunset or sunrise on canvas 
is the same, day after day and night after night. 
The pictures in the orient and Occident, painted by 
the sun, are never the same. In these pictures, in 
the sky or on the sea, the background and the fore- 


ground, the tapestry, are continually changing and 
the stiff, cold, crude colors of the canvas are lacking. 
It has always seemed strange to me that so many 
people, who take an interest in art and who make 
claim to a knowledge of art, take more pleasure in 
visiting art galleries than in studying and admiring 
nature's immaculate and perfect works of art. Who- 
ever has made a careful study of sunset and sunrise 
at sea will not lose much time in the art galleries, 
examining the rude pictures made to imitate such 
glorious scenes, no matter how famous the name of 
the artist on the canvas may be. Who can repro- 
duce on stiff canvas the golden, silvery, rosy tints 
of the curtain of clouds, or the delicate shadows 
of fleeting clouds on the rippling mirror of the sea? 
Nature is the only real art gallery, and she exhibits 
her marvelous pictures and panoramas in the open 
air, free to all. Keep out of the dingy, dusty halls, 
called art galleries, hung with pictures that require 
a legend to know what they are intended to repre- 
sent, and commune in the open air with nature and 
study her inimitable works of art. 


The midnight sun excluded the possibility for us 
to see the aurora borealis in the arctic region. This 
strange phenomenon of the sky makes its grandest 
display in the arctics during the long winter night. 

Nansen describes one of these exhibitions which 
he witnessed during midwinter in 83 north latitude: 
"Presently the aurora borealis shakes over the 
vault of heaven its veil of glittering silver changing 


now to yellow, now to green, now to red. It spreads, 
it contracts again, in restless change; next, it breaks 
into many folded waving bands of shining silver, 
over which short billows of glittering rays float, and 
then the glory vanishes. Presently, it shimmers 
in tongues of flame over the very zenith, and then 
again it shoots a bright ray right up from the hori- 
zon, until, the whole melts away in moonlight; and 
it is as though one heard the sigh of a separating 
spirit. Here and there are left a few, waving stream- 
ers of light, vague as a foreboding they are the dust 
from the aurora's glittering cloak. But now it is 
grown again; new lightnings shoot up, and the endless 
game begins afresh. And all the time this utter 
stillness, impassive as the symphony of infinitude." 

All arctic explorers have been charmed by this 
magnificent vision which must, at least to a con- 
siderable extent, have relieved the monotony of the 
long polar night. It is, in this part of the world, 
a real fourth light of heaven, synchronous, and in 
perfect harmony with the gentle light of moon and 
stars. The aurora borealis is intimately associated 
with the electro-magnetic system of the earth, both 
as to its origin and visibility; although the causes 
and conditions of its intermittent actions are not 
yet fully understood. Some claim that the display 
is occasionally attended by an audible swishing 
sound. Captain Frazer, of the S. S. "Bonaventura," 
informed me that he frequently heard such a sound 
during the height of the phenomenon in his cruises 
along the coast of Newfoundland. 

The common optical effect is the long, low arch 


spanning the sky, of gray, green, purple, or red colors; 
somewhat brightening into the most magnificent 
display of transient tints, suffusing the whole heavens. 
Toward the end of the display, long streamers reced- 
ing from the observer seem to unite in a glorious 
crown, or halo, called the corona. Moistness of the 
atmosphere, cold, low barometric pressure, and the 
neighborhood of large bodies of water intensify the 
luminous manifestations. The arctics present all 
of these conditions and are, therefore, the localities 
in which the aurora makes the most magnificent 
displays. The aurora, which only occasionally is 
seen in our latitude, is but the shadow of what is to 
be seen in the polar regions. 

The dreary coast of Labrador is favored by this 
mysterious light, and for the last three nights I have 
watched and studied these transitory arches, veils, 
sheets, and streamers of shimmering silver. The 
first display made its appearance Thursday evening, 
August 3ist, at 9:30 P. M., simultaneous with the 
new moon and the first starlit night. The finest 
displays have been observed between ten o'clock 
in the evening and midnight. The sky has been 
propitious for these exhibitions. The golden cres- 
cent of the new moon 

"The queen of night 

Shines fair with all her virgin stars." Otway. 

"Now had Aurora displayed her mantle over the 
blushing skies, and dark night withdrawn her 
sable veil." Cervantes. 

Imagine yourself on the deck of a steamer, far 


away from land, the delicate blue of the sky as a 
background, the new moon, the heavens rejoicing 

"In the galaxy, that milky way 
Which nightly, as a circling zone, them see'st 
Powdered with stars." Milton. 

and between the fleeting clouds and these myriads 
of flickering tapers, the fourth light of heaven, the 
aurora, in her favorite silver array and ever varying 
multitudinous forms and you will be in a favorable 
mood to join in the song of the Psalmist : 

"The heavens declare the glory of God; and the 
firmament showeth his handiwork." 

Psalm XIX, 1. 


Mysterious light of arctic skies, 

Shining from where fierce Boreas sighs; 

In glittering beams of silver hue 

And trembling flames of gold, red, and blue, 

Shine long and bright with all thy might, 

O'er land and sea in polar night. 

Fourth light of heav'n in arctic zone, 
Where biting winds and ice forever moan ; 
Congenial friend of moon and stars 
With gloomy darkness keep up your wars; 
Shine long and bright with all thy might, 
O'er land and sea in polar night. 

Soft, gentle light, we can not explain 
What you are, and what may be your aim 
In sending forth your unsteady flame, 
Sparkling with gold and silver in the main ; 
Shine long and bright with all thy might, 
O'er snow and ice in polar night. 


The Labrador coast was sighted toward evening, 
Sunday, September 3d, about a hundred miles north 
of Battle Harbor. A beautiful, real Labrador sun- 
set awaited us. Behind broken clouds, the sun 
appeared, from time to time, in all his northern 
splendor; and, when temporarily veiled, fringed the 
transient clouds with gold; while high above the 
horizon, the dark clouds were painted in purple, 
gradually, almost imperceptibly, shading into somber 
black. As the great ball of fire approached its ocean- 
bed, and its lower rim touched the summits of the 
bleak coast range of mountains in the distance, the 
dazzling rays vanished and left the sun a great disc 
of gold, which disappeared, inch by inch, behind the 
ill-defined horizon. With the disappearance of the 
last speck of gold, the coloration of the sky and 
clouds was blotted out so suddenly that, when the 
eyes lost sight of the retiring sun, a pale sky and 
black, somber clouds formed the background of the 
new-born twilight, which slowly yielded to the 
darkness of the coming night. 

The next evening, again out of sight of land, the 
new moon made a wonderful and, to me, a novel 
display. About nine o'clock, the crescent of gold 
approached, in measured steps, the western horizon, 
only recently cleared of clouds for the reception of 
the queen of the night, traveling over a trackless, 
pale-blue surface. The moon appeared to me 
brighter than I had ever seen her before in that 
part of the sky. The display of the aurora borealis 
in the north then engaged my attention. When I 
looked westward again, the crescent had disap- 


peared. In its place I saw, on a level with the hori- 
zon, what looked to me like a mound of flameless, 
mouldering fire. If we had been in sight of the 
coast, I would have regarded it as such. There 
were no flames or anything that resembled flames. 
This burning mound, almost the color of blood, 
became lower and lower, and in a few minutes van- 
ished entirely, leaving the horizon black, without 
even a tinge of coloration. This strange image in 
the sky was the result of a very limited reflection of 
the moon, already hidden underneath the horizon 
in a hazy atmosphere, a picture rarely developed 
under similar conditions. 

The voyage along the coasts of Labrador and 
Newfoundland was a very pleasant one, as it was 
attended by ideal weather, favorable wind, sun- 
shine, and, occasionally, the passage overhead of a 
drizzling cloud. The temperature gradually climbed 
up to 59 F. The much feared fog along the coast of 
Newfoundland was, for once, absent. The air was 
unusually dry and bracing. Monday night, we 
passed a coast steamer and a sailing vessel, the first 
ships seen since we left Belle Isle Strait, with the 
exception of the "Roosevelt" and the little Danish 
steamer, "Fox," and the small sailing vessel in the 
harbor of Godhavn. Soon after leaving the Labra- 
dor coast, we lost sight of the icebergs which, how- 
ever, caused no regrets. For nearly two months 
these colossal fragments of the many glaciers in the 
far North, water, sky, clouds, and the bleak coast 
of Greenland were constantly before our eyes; and 
it was a relief when the green, low coast range of 


mountains of Newfoundland came in sight. The green 
meadows in the valleys and the tree-clad cliffs were 
a pleasing sight and a welcome change from the 
more stern aspects of the heart of the arctics. The 
trees were small and dwarfed by the fierce gales of 
many a winter; but they were trees, and reminded 
us that we were on the sunny side of the Arctic Circle. 
The narrow entrance of the landlocked, beautiful 
harbor of St. Johns was passed at six o'clock in the 
evening, Tuesday, September 5th, and half an hour 
later the "Erik" was at anchor in her own home. 
We found in the harbor six English men-of- 
war. All merchant vessels were decorated, and 
the little capital city was in gala attire. These 
demonstrations proved to be in honor of Prince 
Louis of Battenburg, the Rear- Admiral, on board 
his flag ship, the "Drake," at the head of his squad- 
ron in the harbor. St. Johns is a stirring city of 
25,000 inhabitants. The wealth of Newfoundland 
consists mainly of its cod and seal-fisheries, and the 
prosperity of the city depends largely on the han- 
dling of these products of the sea. The presence of 
the English squadron marked a great event in the 
daily affairs of the people of St. Johns. The governor 
entertained the prince and the captains of the vessels, 
and the next evening the prince returned the 
courtesies extended to him and his officers by giving 
the governor and the most prominent government 
officials a banquet on board of his flag ship. The 
great battleship was brilliantly illuminated with 
hundreds of electric lights strung in two rows on 
the sides of the vessel over all the four funnels, the 


very top of every mast, and along every spar. An- 
other vessel, the second in size, was similarly deco- 
rated. From the remaining ships of the squadron, 
the flashes of light from reflectors were thrown 
continuously in all directions. This display was 
kept up until midnight, when, with the twinkle of 
an eye, by a given signal, the flickering lights and 
the flash lights were extinguished, leaving the great 
fighting machines of the sea like specters in the 
darkness of the night. 


I took passage on the "Bonavista" that evening, 
and from the deck of the steamer witnessed the 
magnificent illumination of the harbor. The 
steamer left the harbor at two o'clock, next morning, 
Thursday. About thirty first-class passengers 
were on board. As soon as the ship left the entrance 
of the harbor they were aroused from their sleep by 
the violent pitching and rolling of the vessel, which 
reminded them that they were on the open sea, made 
angry by the dreaded September gales. The un- 
steady gait of the ship became more and more so as 
we neared Cape Race, a neighborhood which has a 
bad reputation among sailors, more especially about 
the time of the equinox. The "Bonavista" had a 
smooth path coming, a very rough one on the return 

A dense fog and a drizzling rain added to the 
disagreeableness of the voyage. Experience in the 
past gave me the impression that the English people 
suffer less from seasickness than any other nation- 
ality. I was anxious to learn to what extent the 
Newfoundlanders could make claim to such immunity 
from the terrors of the sea, as most of them are of 
English extraction. On this occasion, their repu- 
tation as sailors fell short of my expectations. I 
was the only one at the breakfast table, and the pale 
steward who waited on me ought to have been in 
bed. The stewardess had done so, and remained 
insensible to the calls for help made by the female 



passengers. The violent ringing of the cabin-bells, 
the moaning and groaning and the periodic dis- 
tressing sounds which accompany the act of vomiting 
proved, only too clearly, that the inmates of all 
cabins were in distress. Two or three pale, 
haggard faces made their appearance at the table 
next meal; but the tempting dishes had no attrac- 
tion for them. After taking a few sips of coffee, 
they disappeared again. It was only after the ship 
entered the quiet waters of the Sydney harbor that 
the passengers recuperated from the effects of the 
unusually rough voyage. 

I love the sea and all its charms ; but after having 
lived on board the "Erik" for nearly two months, 
I was glad to make a change at Sydney, from steamer 
to the well-equipped train of the Intercolonial Rail- 
way, and finish my tour by this more speedy means of 
travel. After a most pleasant and instructive vaca- 
tion of more than two months, most of the time 
having been spent in the very heart of the arctics, 
I reached Ch'cago, Tuesday, September nth, men- 
tally and physically rested, eager to resume my work. 
Travel has made me familiar with nearly all climates 
in the world; it has afforded me an opportunity to 
see and study many primitive races, their habits, 
and customs. It has brought me in touch with 
Nature's choicest works of art, her wonderful re- 
sources, under varying climatic conditions, all of 
which has convinced me : that in all inhabitable parts 
of the globe nature has wisely provided for man and 
beast, and has painted everywhere the most exquis- 
ite works of art and more especially in the land of 
ice and snow Greenland. 



Senn, Nicholas 

In the heart of the Arctics